One of the key requirements of an innovative Chief Executive is an ability to lead with a personal vision for the future. He must be able to see and enunciate what the company stands for and define a path the organization can take to fulfill that vision. He must have a passion to make the company vibrate with excitement. He must be a true leader.
Several major leadership changes have occurred in the luxury brands of retailing. Here is a list and their provenance.
· Jonathan Akeroyd: Now CEO at Burberry – came from Versace.
· Marco Gobetti: Now CEO of Salvatore Ferragamo – came from Burberry.
· Gianfilippo Testa: Now CEO of McQueen – came from Gucci.
· Emmanuel Gintzburger: Now CEO of Versace – came from Alexander McQueen.
· Leena Nair: Now CEO of Chanel – came from Unilever where she was chief of human resources.
To observers it sounds like musical chairs, but all these leaders are very talented and have led their previous companies well.
Companies seeking to inject fresh thinking into their organizations look for successful CEOs who are sensitive to the needs of the market and knowledgeable of the technologies that will make it easier to advance profitably in the current environment. It is noteworthy that LVMH’s Dior and Louis Vuitton increased revenues +51% over 2019 whereas Burberry dropped 3%; that decline made a leadership change necessary. Nonetheless, Gobetti was viewed as having traded up the company and had improved its assortment. Gobetti wanted to make his assortment more relevant to his customers. This vision is what appealed to Ferragamo.
Interesting is Channel’s appointment of Leena Nair, who is an outsider. However, she is knowledgeable about leading people, understanding what motivates them and what their needs are. She will make Chanel a better place to work. This leadership skill is especially important these days. It is true that many people have left their jobs in search of better employment, and this has made retention a major objective for corporate success. (Note: 47 million people have left their jobs in the U.S. in search of better employment.)
Luxury brands must be very agile and innovative to gain interest from today’s new luxury customer. Many times, luxury products will be made of higher-grade materials. This means products are often expensive but not overpriced. They may also present futuristic designs that set the mood for fashion of the future.
Management of these brands must be led by individuals who are passionate about their brands’ ability to forecast future demand by customers. The person at the very top, the CEO, must be passionate about the future possibilities, and they must inspire their staff to pursue the vision with equal passion.
POSTSCRIPT: Luxury brands are often the first to introduce new fashion looks, new designs, and new fabrics. They are the strong leaders of the industry, and their initiatives often lead to new successes. But, post-pandemic, they face challenges as the cost of materials has risen as has the cost of labor. Garments will be more expensive this coming season. However, the new talent at these five leading companies will certainly bring forth new designs that will give a boost to the industry.