CHARISMATIC PEOPLE ARE those you meet and find hard to forget. They impress you with their ease, style and confidence. These are the qualities that strike you on encountering Christian Blanckaert, executive vice-president of Hermes International, in charge of international affairs. We meet him at the Hermes store in The Galleria in Central while he is in town for a conference on the mainland market for luxury goods. Dressed in a soft navy suit with a white open-plaid shirt and striped tie, he is easygoing and confident. 'Chinese consumers are not just one type but many types,' he says. 'They are thirsty for fashion because for so long it was not possible for them.' There are only six Hermes shops in China, a mere handful when you compare them with the number of mainland branches of other international brands. 'We are looking beyond profit and into establishing relationships,' the 60-year-old vice-president says, adding that the company's motto for the mainland is 'touching the hearts of the Chinese people'. Mr Blanckaert believes Hermes, which he regards as a 'signature' rather than a brand, goes down well with mainland consumers as it offers quality craftsmanship and 'value for money'. Interestingly, the company is not overly concerned about piracy. Mr Blanckaert says the Hermes image is constantly changing, and it is always ahead of its imitators. 'You may see a kind of silk used now that you will not see next season,' he says. 'Hermes is about permanent creation. Nothing changes because everything changes.' Does Mr Blanckaert think Hong Kong is losing its allure as the gateway to the mainland? 'Those who say that are dreaming,' he says. 'The Chinese government will continue to need and respect Hong Kong because it is special. China is unpredictable, while Hong Kong is stable.' Mr Blanckaert confesses to being an ardent fan of Hong Kong. 'It's one of the cities in the world that is in a state of constant change,' he says. 'I can breathe in the energy as I walk in the city. And I always see new things.' Asked about his personal taste in clothes, Mr Blanckaert says: 'I am not sophisticated.' But that is not the impression you get from this smartly suited executive with coiffured, silver-grey hair. 'I like to be easygoing and not provocative,' he says. 'My wardrobe consists mostly of grey and blue and a little brown.' He does not particularly like shopping for clothes. His wife of 33 years does that for him. 'She recognises what I like,' he says. Meanwhile, his 32-year-old businessman son and 29-year-old daughter, a lecturer at Sorbonne University, are daring him to try a wider range of colours. He does occasionally capitulate to the bold and brash. His wife recently gave him a bright green scarf, and once he was drawn to a zip-up Hermes sweater that was 'nearly red'. With degrees from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris and the Faculty of Law of Paris and an MBA from the French business school INSEAD, Mr Blanckaert has built a successful career that includes management consultant with Boston-based Harbridge House and managing director of the French do-it-yourself chain Bricorama. In 1988 at the age of 43, he was made president of the Comite Colbert, an organisation with 70 French luxury firms under its wing that was formed in 1954 to advance French traditions of quality and fine craftsmanship. He served in that position until 1996, the year he joined Hermes. Mr Blanckaert is the author of several books, including Roads To Luxury and Portraits en Clair-obscur, which describe his years in the luxury goods industry. For a busy businessman, he is an impressively prolific writer. He is also chairman of the board of the National School of Decorative Arts. As if all that is not enough, he is mayor of Varengeville-sur-Mer in Normandy, France. How does he maintain such a busy schedule? 'I sleep,' he says. 'And I spend the summer at my house in the country. 'I have this little storage kind of place where no one can find me. But there is a desk, and that's where I write.'