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- 8 Dec 2010
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The Luxury Briefing Conference

There are a handful of conferences in the luxury industry that have become must-attend events and The Luxury Briefing Conference is one of them.

Titled Future Luxe, the 2011 edition will be held in London on January 20-21 and will explore new strategies for success in the changing luxury environment.

A sparkling array of speakers such as Nick Jones, founder of Soho House; Gerry McGovern, Design Director of Land Rover, LS Members Marc Worth, CEO of Stylus and founder of WGSN and Nadja Swarovski, Vice President Communications at Swarovski will be leading the thinking on how luxury must evolve in the next decade of the noughties.

I met with James Ogilvy, founder of Luxury Briefing and James Reatchlous the new owner of the company, who gave me a rundown of what we might expect and learn at the conference.

Philippe Barnet: You recently acquired Luxury Briefing with the ambition of expanding its horizons. Can you tell LS members more about your plans for this unique publication?

2532_jamesreatchlous_mediumJames Reatchlous: We have a great product in Luxury Briefing, and I want to build on this so that we become THE global resource for the luxury industry – the one that anyone working in any sector of the industry, or with an interest in the industry, turns to first for information, historical background, news, views, analysis and trend-forecasting. Part of this will be to take Luxury Briefing online and make it an even wider and richer product.

I am also planning to launch new products for both existing and new subscribers. The key is to ensure that what we produce is of real value – we have to ensure that we deliver what subscribers need and want. The first of these new products will be the Luxury Briefing Searchable Archive. We have 14 years of fantastic content, so we are currently digitising that and it will be launched at the LB Conference on January 20. As more products come on-stream, we will make sure that Luxury Society members are given a sneak preview!

PB: What about the conference itself? Since 1998, it has been an inspiring rendez-vous for many luxury brand executives. Will the next edition differ from the past? Any new directions and ideas for 2011?

JR: Well, for a start, the January Conference will have much more of a networking element. We are starting it on a Thursday lunchtime (Jan 20), to allow people to focus on their own business in the morning, and after a quick lunch we’ll kick off with James Ogilvy introducing a thought-provoking set of speakers in the afternoon. This will lead to an evening of fun and and frolic in the fabulous ballroom at The Dorchester, where the main focus will be on people meeting one another and exchanging ideas. I believe that an atmosphere of informality, fun, music and magic will be highly conducive to creative thinking, and will help people to make new friends and lasting contacts.

The following day will be a short half-day of speakers, including Nick Jones from Soho House and a panel of media commentators from both traditional and ‘new’ media. Delegates will go home at lunchtime. In 2011, Luxury Briefing will continue to bring brands and people together – so watch this space!

PB: James, you have covered the business of luxury for over 14 years, how would you describe the current industry climate?

2531_jamesogilvy_mediumJames Ogilvy: Clearly we are going through some challenging times globally, but equally it has been fascinating to see how resilient the luxury industry has proved. Many of the leading brands have managed to turn in remarkably impressive results even through the doldrums of 2009. 2010 has been better, and with 2011 nearly upon us, there is much to be excited about. For many years we have carried an index of the quoted luxury businesses prepared by Dana Telsey of Telsey Advisory Group, one of the leading luxury analysts. It is extraordinary to see the performance of these businesses plotted against the FTSE or S&P over 10 years. I wish I had had all my money in a basket of these stocks!

PB: According to you what are the challenges that luxury brands now face and how will those issues be addressed at the conference?

JB: There are some major issues facing luxury CEOs currently. The digital world still poses a major conundrum – some brands have embraced it but some are still woefully behind the curve. Far too many just use the web to stick up a brochure online. Secondly the question of communication is very topical. As new luxury customers start to come through, they will have a very different idea of the dialogue they expect with brands, and if companies don’t get it right, they will fail to engage this critical segment. Thirdly there is the challenge of the emerging markets and how luxury brands can service and provide product for both the secretary in Shanghai and the Park Avenue princess – it is a tough balancing act. Fourth, there are trends that are affecting (or will soon affect) many of us, be they environmental, social or economic: these cannot help but have an impact on perceptions, on acceptability, on packaging, on travel etc.

All of these areas are being looked at during the course of the Conference. It is a feature of Luxury Briefing Conferences that we invite the sharpest minds in the business to speak and we deliberately cast our net outside the industry, going to the true experts in the areas mentioned above. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

PB: Thank you to both of you and see you in London on the 20th of January. *

I invite LS members interested in the conference to visit the dedicated LS event page to connect with other attendees and click here for online bookings.