Longchamp interview: Jean Cassegrain

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continue to grow amid increased demand for luxury goods

continue to grow amid increased demand for luxury goods

Jean Cassegrain must be one of only a handful of executives based in Europe that isn’t too concerned about the impact the eurozone crisis will have on sales of luxury goods. While the CEO of the luxury French bag maker, Longchamp, admits it would be “irresponsible” not to be a little worried, he adds that with sales for his handbags continuing to rise from Paris to Dubai, he is bullish about the year ahead.

“As of today we are not seeing any sign of a slowdown in our sales; they are still very strong and are actually going up in most places,” he tells Arabian Business.

“We are fortunate that we are very diversified [geographically]. We are in many countries so maybe if it’s difficult in Europe, it’s better in Asia and here [in the Middle East],” he adds.

Global sales of luxury goods are expected to rise seven percent annually through to 2014, buoyed by a still growing Chinese market and barring any major economic crises, consultants Boston Consulting Group said in June.

Much of the reason for Cassegrain’s optimism stems from the fact that Longchamp, a company founded by his grandfather, Jean, in 1948, is so diversified geographically. Even as far back as the 1970s the Paris-based firm had boutiques in Japan and Singapore.

When Jean Sr’s son, Philippe, joined the family business, his grandfather sent him across the world in search of new markets, says Cassegrain. “My grandfather had a very international vision from the outset; he chose the name Longchamp because it works well in many languages, and it’s easy to say in different languages.

“Two years after my grandfather created the company, he created the export department and hired an export manager. He sent my father to Singapore and Hong Kong when he was seventeen by sea and the following year he went to a trade show in New York so the international aspect has been very present in the company from early on,” he adds.

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