Hermès' Search for Growth

Around two years ago I visited the brand's New York office and flagship store through Columbia's Retail & Luxury Goods club, and met with the US CEO, Robert Chavez. Comments he made during that visit - control of brand growth, focus on current markets vs. new, strategic/targeted/slow and steady investments in Asian locations - are echoed in this piece with Axel Dumas. It shows Hermès' leadership is closely aligned on overall brand strategy, reinforcing the confident and strong position the brand holds in the luxury world.

Dumas also had some interesting insight on what digital means for the maison:

Hermès is also making investments in its digital presence. Currently, the company’s brand website is divorced from its e-commerce platform. In mid-2016, the company will integrate the two. “E-commerce is important, but also it’s about communication, telling your value,” Dumas says. “That’s why we are really thinking hard on re-launching the new website in 2016. I view digital as a great opportunity and something that is going to become more and more important.” Indeed, according to Solca, digital is expected to drive, on average, 40 percent of projected luxury sales growth from 2013 to 2020. “[E-commerce] is one of very few ways luxury goods companies can now grow,” he says.

When Dumas was named co-chief executive three years ago, he spent a lot of time looking at the archives, and quickly drew a correlation between the international expansion that happened in the 1970s and the digital expansion that is happening today. “There was a discussion in the 1970s, should we go international or should we not? People were saying, you don’t need to go international because everyone is coming to Paris. Going international will be risky and costly. Fortunately for us, we took the step to go international. I think it’s the same subject about digital now.”