Part of the attraction of studying at Glion is that luxury brands come directly to us when they are recruiting. One of the most recent arrivals was a four-strong team from Parisian fashion house Longchamp, who visited our Bulle campus to bring this famous luxury name to life…
“As hospitality students, I think you have the experience and the ability to create a special bond with our customers and that’s the reason we’re here today,” said Charles de Vivie, Longchamp Global HR Development Director, speaking to students during an industry recruitment event at our Bulle campus.
“The purpose of our visit is to introduce you to Longchamp, but also to gauge your feelings and impressions of our company and to field your questions. That will be really interesting for us.”
Students interested in a career in luxury and eager to learn more about the luxury brand listened intently as the four Longchamp representatives talked through their company’s history, ethos, values and vision for the future. And perhaps most importantly, its plans for further expansion and recruitment.
Alongside Charles were HR Manager, Switzerland Marie D’Onofrio, Global Talent Acquisition Lead Sarah Poignonec and Country Manager, Switzerland Marcel Boegli.
Following a brief history of how the company was founded in Paris in 1948 by Jean Cassegrain and how the name and logo were developed, Charles spoke to students about Longchamp’s values, its structure and the kind of working environment employees can expect at the company.
“First of all, we are a Parisian fashion house,” he explained. “This is important, because although we have outlets and workshops around the world, we want to keep this Parisian flavor present in all our products.
“Also important is that we are a family business. The management is third and fourth generation Cassegrain family, with the current CEO being the founder’s grandson and his sister Sophie Delafontaine the Creative Director. There are no investment funds, no banks. It’s 100% owned and run by the family and you see them on a daily basis. And they’re really accessible – it’s not just a posture.
“That’s why authenticity – along with responsibility and energy – are the values by which the company operates.”
“First of all, we are a Parisian fashion house. This is important, because although we have outlets and workshops around the world, we want to keep this Parisian flavor present in all our products. Also important is that we are a family business. The management is third and fourth generation Cassegrain family, with the current CEO being the founder’s grandson and his sister Sophie Delafontaine the Creative Director. There are no investment funds, no banks. It’s 100% owned and run by the family and you see them on a daily basis.”
Charles de Vivie
Going for growth
Longchamp products are distributed in more than 80 countries across the world to more than 1,200 points of sale. It owns 330 stores, has subsidiaries in 25 countries and, in January 2024, will add a new one in Finland.
“We have 3,400 wonderful employees within the company, which is 15% more than last year,” added Charles. “So our progress has been good and our outlook is strong. Our development plans include creating more than 450 positions by the end of this year, which demonstrates the incredible growth we are experiencing at the moment.”
When quizzed by a student on how the brand is performing so well in what are generally regarded as economically challenging times, Charles pointed to a number of factors.
“It’s no single thing that’s driving our success,” he answered. “We have a new strategy, our new store concepts are doing well, we’ve added new product lines and the travel business – which is really important for us – is recovering, almost to pre-pandemic levels.
“I also think the family has worked hard on brand positioning and that’s having a really positive effect. The brand is becoming more and more fashionable thanks to our marketing and communication efforts, some cool partnerships and a number of exciting and creative new launches, such as the Longchamp X ToiletPaper.”
Another key aspect of the company the Longchamp team were keen to emphasize is its commitment to sustainability.
“Since 2022, our flagship Pliage bags have been made from 100% recycled canvas, nylon and polyester, which has allowed us to reduce the product’s carbon footprint by 20%,” said Charles. “Responsibility is a pillar of the company and this is shown not only in our commitment to using recycled, responsibly sourced materials but also the quality of our products, which are built to last.
“Not only that, we have two facilities – one in France and one in the US – where you can send your bags for repair, at which we have fixed more than 60,000 products.
“In terms of carbon footprint, the most significant factor for us is transportation. That’s why we have production sites in different parts of the world near our major sales centers, so we can reduce the distance between manufacturing and retail.”
Hospitality in store
For the final part of the presentation, Charles introduced the ‘Rise’ concept being rolled out across the company’s stores. This seeks to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere by recreating the look and feel of a Parisian apartment.
“The idea is to create a personal connection,” he noted. “It’s like in luxury hospitality where you aim to have a special bond with the customer so they feel like they are not only there to buy something, they are in a place where they feel a real expression of the brand.
“Our store managers are there not just to sell but to develop these relationships on a personal level. To create an atmosphere where customers feel welcome even if they don’t buy something. That’s our mission with Rise and we are looking for employees who can embody the essence and values of this vision. With my experience of the hospitality industry, I think Glion students fit the bill perfectly.”
Following this thought-provoking presentation, students had the opportunity to ask the panel questions, something they took advantage of enthusiastically.
While some wanted to know more about Longchamp locations around the world and what is driving the company’s success, other students were keen to know more about employment opportunities, language requirements and how they could apply.
Perhaps echoing the thoughts of most at the presentation, someone asked whether experience in hospitality could help prospective employees enter the luxury retail industry.
“Yes of course,” said Charles in response. “If you spend a couple of years after graduation in the hospitality industry, which is the main objective of your education, you will definitely have developed the skills we are looking for.
“My hospitality experience was incredibly valuable for the rest of my career. It’s an industry in which you are closer to customers than almost all others. You are almost entering their private lives, you see their families, their habits. In terms of customer relationships, there are none stronger than the ones you develop in hospitality.
“Alongside this, the transferable skills you learn in areas such as housekeeping or food and beverage are also valuable. I think the experience you gain in hospitality will definitely help you carve out a future in the luxury retail industry.”
- To discover more about Longchamp, visit the website
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