MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Monday, January 27, 2014

Visiting the L’Oréal Factory

By Emily Albright, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2013-2014, American

On Friday, January 17, the ESSEC MBA in International Luxury Brand Management class was given the opportunity to visit L’Oréal’s Beauté, Recherche & Industries (BRI) factory in Lassigny, France. Situated just outside of Paris, Lassigny is a quaint town accessible by car in 1.5 hours. When we arrived, we were immediately greeted by L’Oréal staff, some of whom we had met at L’Oréal/ESSEC events earlier in the year.

The class was then welcomed with refreshments and petit déjeuner as the L’Oréal team treated us to a presentation on the history and evolution of BRI. When the Lassigny factory was founded in the 1960’s it originally served only the Yves Saint Laurent brand, but when L’Oréal purchased the plant in 2008, they greatly expanded. Now the factory produces perfumes and anhydrous makeup (lip gloss, lipstick, eye shadow) for a variety of brands including Giorgio Armani, Lancôme, Viktor & Rolf, and Yves Saint Laurent, among others.

L’Oréal has 41 self-owned plants, primarily in Europe. An impressive 90% of L’Oréal’s products are made in-house, and one of the primary reasons behind this is so that L’Oréal can better manage responsibility and safety. Along the same lines, corporate responsibility and environmental preservation is a main focus of the group, specifically by reducing carbon, waste, and water usage by 2015 (and they are well on the way to their goal!). Three of L’Oréal’s luxury plants produce almost all luxury products for L’Oréal.

Following the information session, L’Oréal experts escorted us on private tours of the lip gloss/lipstick factory (where eye shadow is also produced) and the perfume factory. During the tours, we were able to see actual products in the creation phases, including some very exclusive perfumes! It was extremely impressive to see everything come together, from the initial coloring stage to final product and packaging. After the tours, we were kindly treated to lunch at the factory and enjoyed the time getting to know more the Lassigny and L’Oréal staff.

Thank you L’Oréal!


Friday, January 10, 2014

A Visit to the Breguet Museum

By Pawel Zawisza, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management student 2013-2014, Poland

Paris holds infinite amount of attractions when it comes to luxury, one of which is the Breguet Museum located on the second floor of Breguet boutique at 6, Place Vendôme in Paris. The museum is free of charge, however only available every Tuesday by appointment. On January 7th some of us interested in the luxury watch industry were able to learn more about the craftsmanship of the Breguet maison with the help of the boutique manager, Mr. Richard Vassor.

Although many people associate luxury watch industry with Switzerland, Abraham Louis Breguet – considered by many to be the greatest watchmaker that ever lived – spent majority of his working life in Paris, giving rise to the Maison that today is the crown jewel of the Swatch Group. The importance of the Breguet Maison is further reinforced by the fact its CEO is none other than Mr. Marc Hayek, a son of Nick Hayek, current CEO of Swatch Group.

Tourbillon patent
Today Breguet watches are immediately recognisable by so-called 'Breguet hands' on the case. At the time, however, the master watchmaker gave the world multiple mechanical innovations, including the first self-winding mechanism suitable for repeated assembly, as well as one of the world's most recognisable watch complications – the tourbillon. The musuem features his original letter to the French ministry asking for a patent for this landmark invention, which was granted in 1801.

The museum features more than 50 watches made by Breguet at various points in his life and afterwards, which have since been methodically bought back by the maison.

First pocketwatch made by Breguet
First we were shown 'minute repeaters', a collection of pocket watches featuring sound effects at a certain time interval, be it a quarter of an hour, an hour, or a number of minutes. This way a person was able to tell the time without having to take out the watch out of his pocket.

Another interesting collection was that of 'tact watches', featuring an innovative hand design, where one was able to tell the time by touching the hand. During Breguet’s time it was considered highly impolite to take note of the time during a social gathering. ‘Tact watches’ were therefore a way for affluent people to tell the time simply by putting hand in their pocket and feeling the hand on the watch. Another variation involved placing a small hour marker at a predetermined position e.g. 12 o'clock. This way the owner was able to tell the hour in the dark.

A separate category of watches were so-called 'Turkish watches' with beautifully finished cases, made specifically for the Tuskish market. Only 30 pieces were ever made by the maison.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to see the register where all watch sales made during Breguet's life were recorded, including three watches sold to 'General Bonaparte' just before his campaign in Egypt. The register also recorded the sale of 'Marie Antoinette' – a pocket watch which, at the time of its creation, held every known watch function in the world, including a perpetual calendar, minute repeater, chronograph, thermometer, power reserve indicator, and many others.

"Marie Antoinette"
But perhaps the most significant transaction is recorded under no. 2639, for the sale of 'montre repetition de forme obloungue pour bracelet' for the queen of Naples, sister of Napoleon. Unknown to many, this is the world's first wristwatch, designed specifically from the beginning to be worn on the wrist. For 90 years after this creation, all wristwatches were in fact redesigned pocket watches. Today Breguet's watch line for women proudly bears the name 'Reine de Naples'.

The whole visit lasted a little over 45 minutes, and by the end of it we very extremely impressed by the true genius of Breguet. Hopefully one day all of us will be able to efford one of Breguet watches!

We would like once more to thank Mr. Richard Vassor, 'Responsable Adjoint de boutique', for his time and attention. His great passion and knowledge of Breguet greatly helped us in appreciating the extraordinary collection.