“Leather is not as good as it used to be. Ten years ago the thing that worried me most was the training of artisans. Today my biggest concern is the quality of materials, and this is where we need to invest”. Speaking with the Financial Times, Axel Dumas, 48 year-old CEO of Hermès, raises the alarm. Or rather, he reiterates that anticipated last June by his general manager: the quality of leathers on the market would be declining. While the supply chain is “a real battle”.
Once the training issue was resolved with an agreement with the Ministry of Education and the creation of an internal school for new employees, Hermès focused its production strategy. “When I have arrived at the Leather Department (newly appointed CEO in 2014), the first thing the Finance Department told me was that we had to stop orders for bags under 10 units,” says Dumas. “I asked: what shares of total orders do they represent? 15%, they replied. I said: I won’t give up 15% of leather business on the first day – he continues -. There can be only 10 units of a model scattered in 310 stores. A lot of people might not even see them, but I like the idea. Ok, there is a negative aspect: in terms of supply chain and distribution, it is an inefficient model, but this is precisely what has forced Hermès to be multi-local and diversified”.
The last great artisans
Hermès considers himself the last great artisan in the world of luxury. The brand does not have a marketing department, but a “darwinist” approach to the market. “We almost never do product launches – concludes the CEO -. We present a novelty, we let creativity drive the process and then we see what survives”.