Stepping on the Gas: Chloé Gets the Cash

Chloé is embarking on an aggressive expansion drive that could see it become a billion-dollar baby for parent Compagnie Financiere Richemont.

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“When I hired Alber, it was based totally on intuition. You have to believe your intuition,” he stressed. “I respect [designers] and I trust them.”

Appointing Philo, who worked invisibly as Stella McCartney’s assistant at Chloé before McCartney exited to launch her own label with Gucci Group, as Chloé’s new design leader looks like another perfect match.

Indeed, Toledano praised Philo’s growing maturity and design confidence. “She’s now really self-assured,” he said. “She has a clear understanding of what the brand is; she makes decisions; she knows what she wants. She’s very focused.

“We now have in this company a team. We have very clear guidelines in terms of creation, in terms of marketing, in terms of communication,” he continued. “We have built the foundation for a very interesting growth.”

For many years, some in the industry assumed Richemont might dispose of Chloé, the only women’s rtw business in a group prized for its clout in hard luxury with brands such as Cartier, Montblanc, IWC, Dunhill, Van Cleef & Arpels and Piaget. Richemont chairman Johann Rupert for years downplayed the importance of Chloé to the group as its jewelry, watches and leather goods businesses went from strength to strength. Even after McCartney was appointed Chloé’s designer, Rupert said the company’s sales barely equalled those of one Cartier boutique.

But Toledano said Rupert never considered selling Chloé and that the group now more than ever recognizes the important role of creativity, in addition to marketing.

“Johann Rupert knows the fashion industry very, very, very well,” Toledano said. “I feel extremely well at Richemont because of the culture of the company. They respect individuals and they take a long-term view.”

And Rupert clearly is bullish on Chloé. Commenting on Richemont’s strong financial performance in the last fiscal year, Rupert said this summer: “Maybe it’s time to put our foot on the accelerator there; I’m looking forward to discussing future plans with the Chloé management.”

Asked if he felt alienated or conspicuous within the organization, Toledano retorted by saying he receives tremendous support from Richemont’s administrative and legal teams, plus its regional organizations. “It’s because we are different, all these people are very curious about what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re not just another watch company.”
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