Swiss maison's artistic director and co-president Caroline Scheufele retains faith in Macau and China projects
What are the reasons behind opening a new boutique in Macau amid the slowdown?
This boutique has been a long time in the planning. We have always wanted to be in the Wynn and it finally happened. We are also opening a second one in the old Wynn, Wynn Encore, at the end of this month. You cannot only look at the present, you also need to consider the long term. We’ve always wanted to be in Macau. We have put a lot of projects on hold in China, but we’re confident that we’ll return to them. Things will change. After a downturn there is always an upside. Being Chopard, we didn’t do what some of our colleagues did to put all the eggs in China. We kept our eggs in different baskets.
How do you view the potential of Macau?
There are huge developments going on. There are new casinos such as MGM Cotai, which will have another 1,500 rooms. People who live here still believe in Macau and the Chinese will always gamble. It is in their blood.
What difficulties have you encountered during the slowdown?
You have to be more creative and get closer to your clients. You need more trained people who really know the products. People are becoming more intelligent about what they buy. Before, they just bought. Now they compare products and brands. They’d rather buy one more important thing than having three things they want, whether it’s fashion, watches or jewellery. It’s important for our team to be more knowledgeable about our products and the history of Chopard because the very high end clients in China are also shifting from certain brands to others. They don’t want to wear a uniform, from top to toe, where everybody looks the same. There are a lot of changes going on within the luxury market in general. It's not just to do with the slowdown.
Chopard has enjoyed spectacular development in new products. Do you worry about brand dilution?
No I do not. I think if you venture into other products, whether it’s eyewear, accessories or homeware, the product itself has to be of the same top quality, as the watches and the jewellery. We cannot make a 10-million-dollar necklace and then have a perfume that is packed cheaply, is not creative and doesn’t smell elegant. The products have to be in line with each other. I think some brands make a mistake because they let somebody else do it and they stamp their logo on it, but it doesn’t match the brand's vision. It’s important when you venture out and do something else that you identify yourself with that product.
As the artistic director and co-president of a family-owned company, what challenges do you face?
I have to remain creative. This is an ongoing challenge. I always have to come up with something that hasn’t been done before. As a family-owned company, we are responsible for the employees that we have. It’s not just the employees, they also have their families. We have to know what we do is the right thing.
What are your inspirations?
Inspiration is something that is ongoing. It can be nature such as flowers or animals. I have done a whole animal collection for the 150th anniversary and we are working on some new ones for next year. It can also be music, colour, gemstones themselves, food, architecture and fashion. Basically it’s everything around us.
Do you have a favourite piece from this year?
I have the vintage re-edition of the very first Happy Diamonds which I am wearing now.
Happy Diamonds collection is turning 40 this year, what does it represent?
It’s sort of the DNA of Chopard. That sets us apart from other houses because a piece of jewellery with a Happy Diamond is distinctive. You can recognise it from afar with diamonds moving, whereas with another piece of jewellery which is more classical, it is more difficult to tell the brand. I think it’s a very strong statement. Whether it’s in the watch or the jewellery, it always puts a smile on a lot of faces.
How has 2016 been for Chopard?
Very busy. I’ve been travelling like never [before]. I think there is a saying, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. This is not a year when you can sit back and say “okay, let’s wait and see what’s going to happen”. You have to make things happen. At our level a lot of people are still rich. Maybe they have lost a bit of their wealth but they’re still sitting on a lot. They also have to feel that they want to spend it. When everybody says times are bad, then the people will also say it’s bad. We had an incredible event at the Cannes Film Festival. We've never had as many clients wanting to attend as we did this year. And it was a very successful Cannes in general. This shows that there is also the other side to what is happening. When you make a nice event, you may invite clients for a nice dinner and you show them the novelties, they’re always open to [buy]. There are always birthdays, Christmas or an occasion when somebody has to give a present. Maybe the gift is less expensive than the year before, but you still expect presents at your birthday don’t you?
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