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Jean Claude Biver taking over as head of watchmaking , LVMH dwells on his priorities in a candid chat with Mitrajit Bhattacharya at Hotel Kempinski, Geneva during SIHH
You are the big boss now at LVMH handling three brands namely Zenith, Hublot and TAG Heuer. Tell us about your priorities?
The first priority is to learn from people. Listen to them. If you listen to people, look at the collection, you might understand and know what to do. If I start to act without listening, without looking, without learning, I might act like a blind guy because these three brands do not need anything. They do not need to be restructured for they are already successful. Of course, you can always do more. If I look at the numbers, these brands are all nicely managed and are progressing. There is no urgency to act, to do something. Whatever I do, I will never act on my own; I will only be a promoter. If I feel that Zenith should go into the promotion of the racing cars, which is not the case, I will not tell them to do it but promote the idea. I am like an ambassador of ideas, and ambassador of products, and an ambassador of marketing, who tries to give, and say, “Hey what do you think, we should do this or not? Do you agree?” And then when people agree, then up we go.
What do you think is the key to your successful formula? Is it continuing to work with those who have been with you for years?
No, it’s not like that. Both Jean Frederic Dufour, CEO of Zenith and Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot have worked with me for over 10 years. In TAG Heuer I don’t know anybody now. It’s a huge brand, and being a huge organisation I might find some people who I would immediately take into this group or team. So, the team will just be enlarged. And in a team, you should always accept new people.
How would you differentiate your mentored brand Hublot from the rest? You’ve really lived with Hublot for the past 10 years?
Yes, I have distanced myself from the said brand two years back.
Tell us about the launches from Hublot this year in Geneva?
I have not been much involved with the collection displayed here at Geneva but I know what we have done one for the Brazil World Cup.