Luxury Institute News

August 20, 2014

Macy’s settles up in profiling case

By: Dan Gorenstein
Marketplace
August 20, 2014

After the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and the recent clashes in Ferguson, Missouri, racial profiling has returned to the national spotlight.

Department store chain Macy’s reached a $650,000 settlement Wednesday with the New York Attorney General’s office over racial profiling practices, which shows how deep the issue runs. This is the second settlement since 2005 for Macy’s, and the deal comes about a week after a similar agreement was reached with the Madison Avenue luxury store Barney’s.

The most recent investigation has found that African-American and Hispanic shoppers were detained at  “significantly higher rates” for alleged shoplifting than white shoppers.

Retail researcher Paula Rosenblum says racial profiling is frequently an afterthought in the industry.

“They mostly advise their store associates to watch out for people who look suspicious,” she says.

Milton Pedraza, founder and CEO of the Luxury Institute, says retailers have every incentive to train front-line and security staff so every customer feels welcome.

“Even if you didn’t have moral clarity on the issue, at least you should have economic clarity on the issue,” he says.

Pedraza says stealing a shirt is insignificant compared to the additional sales that come from building a reputation as a kind and generous merchant.

For its part, Macy’s has agreed to make several changes, including an effort to improve its anti-shoplifting practices and plans to distribute an anti-racial-profiling memo to workers.

Simma Lieberman, who works with retailers on diversity and what she calls “cultural intelligence” says employers should know profiling is often unconscious. Lieberman trains her clients to monitor their own personal biases. Often, she says, shop clerks are quick to make assumptions, and “they don’t get to behavior, they just look at what somebody looks like.”

The danger, says Lieberman, is in our rush to judgment, when we “assume someone is going to have a certain behavior, which they may not have.”

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/macys-settles-profiling-case

Corruption and cognac: China’s crackdown hits luxury

By: Jacqueline Nelson
The Globe and Mail
August 20, 2014

Cognac has become the latest casualty in China’s war on corruption, a nationwide crackdown that has squeezed the country’s once-plump luxury goods market.

Shipments of the French brandy to Asia, in particular China, have fallen sharply in the past year. Both the volume sold and the total value of shipments dropped around 20 per cent, according to French-based trade group National Interprofessional Bureau of Cognac (BNIC). The Chinese slowdown played a major part in an overall decline in global sales of cognac, with shipments down nearly 7 per cent in the past year and total value falling 10 per cent, the BNIC said. And that came after three years of record sales.

President Xi Jinping began clamping down last year on the spendthrift ways of the country’s government workers, from military officers to politicians and civil servants. The crusade has put the kibosh on giving flashy gifts such as high-priced cognac or leather goods from Louis Vuitton, which had commonly been offered by officials to sweeten deals.

The fallout has slashed the sales growth of many luxury goods to low-single digits, and China is expected to keep this “lacklustre” pace of growth for the rest of the year, according to a recent report from Claudia D’Arpizio, a partner at consulting firm Bain & Co.

Ms. D’Arpizio projects the luxury goods market in China will grow by 2 per cent to 4 per cent in 2014, which is in line with Europe and a slower rate than North and South America. It’s a major change from China’s 20-per-cent increase in market size between 2011 and 2012.

“The corruption crackdown is still reducing sales,” the report said, noting that the stricter regulations were especially impacting gifting.

It’s a tightening spigot that one of the world’s largest luxury companies has seen first-hand. In its most recent quarterly results, Paris-based LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, maker of Hennessy-branded cognac, cited heavy destocking of French brandy in China. The company attributed this to “anti-extravaganza measures” – a term used to describe the Chinese government’s limitations on extravagant spending. The company’s Louis Vuitton fashion line also saw softer sales in China in the quarter.

The financial results of other cognac-selling companies, such as Rémy Cointreau SA and Pernod Ricard SA, have also shown the Chinese market is a challenge. Fashion house Prada Group, and luxury giant Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, owner of Montblanc, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels SA brands, have also been showing similar signs of strain in China.

“This famous gifting issue has impacted our business in China especially for most of our brands, because most of our brands were the most regarded and offered as a gift,” Richard Lepeu, co-CEO of Richemont, said on a recent earnings call.

It wasn’t long ago that China was seen as the future for luxury goods, as incomes there rose while Western shoppers pulled back because of the recession.

But now the region has cooled off and the world’s luxury market is entering a more mature phase. Retailers are reshaping their strategies in China from lengthening store hours to offering discounts in order to entice more customers to spend as growth slows down.

Some luxury producers are navigating the headwinds better than others. Burberry Group PLC’s past quarterly results showed double-digit sales growth in mainland China and Hong Kong. The company’s chief financial officer, Carol Fairweather, attributed this in part to targeting younger consumers and connecting with them digitally. The retailer is still betting on Asia to help drive growth and opened its first flagship store in Shanghai earlier this year.

Even more important than these strategic changes will be maintaining a reputation for quality. “Consumers are so much more discerning now in China,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of research and consulting firm Luxury Institute LLC. Brands such as Hermès, Bottega Veneta, Chanel and top-tier liquors are standing out with the Chinese consumers because they are truly unique and exclusive.

Tariffs and other charges often make luxury goods more expensive in China than abroad, leading many Chinese to buy their leather goods and other luxe products on trips. This is one area Canada benefits, as wealthy tourists flock to Toronto and Vancouver to shop, Bain’s report notes.

Unless a housing bubble or debt crisis threaten the Chinese economy, luxury brands may have seen the worst of the slowdown.

“I think by the end of the year we’ll be in a different mode. I think the government will have flexed its muscles, it will have made its point,” Mr. Pedraza said. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand out there.”

The government could risk encouraging a larger black market for goods if its purchasing limitations go on too long or become too stringent, he added.

And industry heavyweights such as LVMH are also betting the government sanctions will ease up in the future. The company is building out its cognac-production capacity in anticipation of future growth. “This will help the brands be in a good position when the destocking in China subsides, although this is expected to continue through the second half of the year,” said Chris Hollis, director of financial communication, on a conference call.

http://m.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/corruption-and-cognac-chinas-crackdown-hits-luxury/article20146104/?service=mobile

August 19, 2014

Nordstrom bets on a slow, cautious entry into Canada

By: Marina Strauss
The Globe and Mail
August 18, 2014

For Karen McKibbin, getting it right is more important than doing it fast in her latest assignment at upscale U.S. chain Nordstrom Inc.

The president of Nordstrom’s Canadian division has been gearing up for two years for the launch of its first store here on Sept. 19 in Calgary’s Chinook Centre. She watched another U.S. retail giant – discounter Target Corp. – stumble in rapidly introducing its first 124 outlets in this country in 2013 amid customer complaints of empty shelves and overhigh prices.

Nordstrom is taking a decidedly different approach from Target, opening its first six stores gradually over 2 1/2 years, she said.

“We are going to stub our toe – we are not going to get everything perfect,” she said in a telephone interview from Calgary, where she has been spending three or four days a week commuting from Nordstrom’s Seattle headquarters. “You can expect us to make changes and respond in real time. We are certainly not resting on our laurels.”

A lot is riding on Ms. McKibbin making a positive first impression with Nordstrom in affluent Calgary. As Target works to make up lost ground, Nordstrom is investing in a slow, deliberate rollout, betting that its first foray outside its home country will pay off in giving customers reasons to return amid rising competition in the luxury field.

Nordstrom posted $14-million (U.S.) of operating losses last year in Canada and expects $35-million in 2014, chief financial officer Mike Koppel has said. The red ink will flow for “several years” before the division contributes to the retailer’s bottom line, he has warned. Eventually, the company anticipates it can generate $1-billion of annual sales in up to 10 department stores and as many as 20 of its Rack discount outlets.

(Target, for its part, had expected to be in the black in the final quarter of its first year in Canada, but instead it reported an operating loss of almost $1-billion last year and analysts anticipate more red ink in 2014.)

But Nordstrom, which is a relatively strong performer south of the border, will face an increasingly crowded luxury market in Canada. Dominant player Holt Renfrew & Co. and men’s wear specialist Harry Rosen Inc. are expanding their stores, while U.S. rival Saks Inc., which was bought by Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay Co. in 2013, is preparing to launch its first stores in this country next year. HBC is making progress in polishing its existing operations here.

“Nordstrom is going to have to be adaptable because things will evolve in Canada,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of researcher the Luxury Institute in New York, which has worked with each of Nordstrom, Holts and Saks. “But I think Nordstrom will be a solid competitor.”

In the Institute’s annual survey of luxury retailers’ customer service and store experience, Nordstrom ranked No. 1 this year after coming in second in 2013 and first the previous year.

In Canada, Nordstrom has already shown its cautious approach by delaying the launch of its Rack stores here from a planned 2015 roll out because of the unexpected complexity of building its new systems. Nordstrom also will hold back for now on introducing a separate domestic e-commerce site, said Ms. McKibbin, a veteran of Nordstrom.

“We definitely feel there’s an opportunity for us to serve the customer online and that’s definitely still part of our strategy,” she said. “Although when we’ll be able to offer that to the customer is left to be determined.” Nordstrom allows consumers here to cross-border shop from its U.S. site although steep duty, tax and shipping fees raise the tab about 10 to 20 per cent, a spokeswoman said.

Its next store opens in Ottawa in March, 2015 and, in Vancouver, six months later. “I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about opening our first store,” Ms. McKibbin said. “The cadence is going to allow us the opportunity to open the doors to our first store and really get to work about making the adjustments, things that customers are telling us they want, and then applying that to our next store.”

Click the link to read the entire article, which includes a quote from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/nordstrom-bets-on-a-slow-entry-into-canada/article20100322/

August 18, 2014

Convergent Wealth Advisors Shines as Luxury Wealth Manager

PRWeb
August 18, 2014

The Luxury Institute has announced Convergent Wealth Advisors as third out of 39 leading national wealth management companies and private wealth managers in their 2014 LBSI Wealth Management Survey. The survey asked affluent respondents nationwide to evaluate each firm based on such factors as service quality, exclusivity, social status, and the ability to deliver special client experiences.

Convergent’s expanding presence in the wealth management space comes at a time where investors demand more personalized attention. According to Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza, affluent individuals and families place expertise, trustworthiness, and generosity high on their list of attributes needed in order to build strong client relationships. Convergent embraces these attributes as part of its core values and corporate vision that underpin each client relationship.

“We believe that living well is the ultimate goal of investing well,” says Convergent President and COO Douglas Wolford. “The modern notion of luxury is defined by a sense of ease, confidence, and authenticity. Wealthy families want an experience tailored to their individual needs and goals—and one that allows them to enjoy more of the benefits and avoid many of the burdens of wealth.”

Dave Zier, CEO, adds, “People want to be associated with a luxury brand. Convergent strives to provide our clients with an experience that money alone can’t buy—an experience in living well. Being highly ranked by the Luxury Institute only reinforces our commitment to offering what we believe is the finest in wealth management.”

For the entire article click the link:http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12082567.htm

 

August 13, 2014

Luxury Retail Summit 2014 New York Sept. 9: St. Regis, MissoniHome, Christie’s Watch Shop, Leading Hotels of the World, Breeders’ Cup, WSJ., Eleven James, Crest and Co.

Luxury Daily
August 13, 2014

Registration is open for the second annual Luxury Retail Summit: Holiday Focus 2014 conference Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014 in New York featuring speakers from St. Regis, MissoniHome, Christie’s Watch Shop, The Leading Hotels of the World, The Breeders’ Cup, Crest and Co., Eleven James, WSJ. magazine, ForbesLife, Bloomberg Pursuits, Style Coalition and leading luxury-focused agencies and market researchers.

This daylong New York event is a must-attend for luxury retailers, luxury brands, publishers, ad agencies and market researchers looking for strategic and tactical advice, tips, case studies and research on luxury retailing, especially in the run-up to the holidays. At this exclusive summit organized by this publication at the National Museum of the American Indian across from Manhattan’s Battery Park downtown, attendees will get to listen and meet with key executives moving the needle for the luxury business including retail, marketing and media. The conference, whose agenda is below, will be limited to only 150 delegates.

“The key point for luxury brands and retailers heading into the holiday season is an eternal truth with a slight qualification: Know your customer – very well,” said Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief of Luxury Daily, New York.

“Today’s luxury shopper is as sharp as a tack, sniffing out quality and value, looking for the unique experience that makes the best memory for self and loved ones,” he said. “With all the noise that the holidays bring, being heard, seen and bought with brand values and integrity intact will be the challenge in the months ahead.”

Retail detail
Attendees to the Luxury Retail Summit will hear how MissoniHome and Christie’s Watch Shop approach luxury retailing, especially as the holidays near.

Also ready to share experiences are senior executives from Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ St. Regis and The Luxury Collection, The Leading Hotels of the World, The Breeders’ Cup, Crest and Co., Eleven James, WSJ. magazine, ForbesLife, Bloomberg Pursuits and Style Coalition.

In addition, market researchers from Wealth-X, Wealth Engine, Shullman Research Center, Unity Marketing, Ipsos MediaCT, YouGov and The Luxury Institute will reveal valuable data, insights and analysis on luxury shoppers and shopping.

Finally, top executives from agencies, marketing service providers and retail consultancies such as RO-NY, STC Associates, Boston Retail Partners, iProspect and McCann Truth Central will debate whether marketing is keeping up with evolving consumer attitudes as online and mobile gain more mindshare.

Attendees will have access to all presentations made at the event.

The event is priced at $695 for the day, which includes breakfast, lunch and cocktails. Refunds will not be given 72 hours before the event or for no-shows on the day of the conference.

For sponsorship, please contact ads@napean.com for prompt attention.

The Luxury Retail Summit: Holiday Focus 2014 is part of this publication’s exclusive summit series including Luxury FirstLook and Luxury Roundtable. The events’ core point of difference is their strong editorial spine with a deep-dive into topics under discussion.

The summit agenda can also be accessed via http://www.luxuryretailsummit.com.

For the entire article click the link:http://www.luxurydaily.com/luxury-retail-summit-2014-new-york-sept-9-st-regis-missonihome-christies-watch-shop-leading-hotels-of-the-world-breeders-cup-wsj-eleven-james-crest-and-co-3/

Bogner Said Seeking Buyer

By: Rosemary Feitelberg
Women’s Wear Daily
August 13, 2014

Click on the link to read the entire article(subscription required):http://www.wwd.com/business-news/mergers-acquisitions/bogner-said-seeking-buyer-7835924