Chanel Undergoes Transformation Led by Asian Female CEO

1月 25, 2024

On January 11, the spokesperson for the French luxury company Chanel announced that Richard Collasse, the former General Manager for the Japan region, will be leaving after serving the brand for forty years. Richard Collasse was in charge of Chanel’s business in Japan from 1995 to 2018. In recent years, he also helped Chanel establish a global travel retail business.

It is noteworthy that this is at least the fifth executive change at Chanel in the past ten months, signaling a new wave of transformation at the management level of this privately-owned top French luxury brand.

—— Global Head of Open Innovation

In January 2024, Christine Dagousset, the Global Head of Open Innovation at Chanel, also left the company after 26 years of service. A veteran in the beauty industry, she joined Chanel in 1998 as the Global Senior Vice President of Skincare and quickly rose through the ranks. In 2014, she was appointed as the Global President of the Fragrance and Beauty division and served in this position for four years before being named as the Officer of Global Long-Term Development. She is also a board member of the American technology haircare brand Olaplex and Evolved by Nature.

—— President and COO of Chanel USA

In June 2023, John Galantic, the President and COO of Chanel USA, announced his resignation. John Galantic joined the company in 2006, focusing on the U.S. market. From 2017, he took on more global leadership roles, such as implementing and leading the company’s digital team, collaborating in the development of the brand’s official website, and leading the company’s sustainable development and social commitment teams. In September, his position was taken over by Stephane Blanchard, who has worked for Chanel for nearly 30 years, previously serving as General Manager for Chanel in Russia, C.I.S. region, Germany, and as the General Manager of Chanel Korea since 2016.

—— Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion

In May 2023, Alexandra McCauley, the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion and Global Employee Communication and Engagement at Chanel, joined the British luxury brand Burberry as Chief People Officer in November of the same year, responsible for all aspects of the brand’s global talent strategy.

—— President of Chanel UK

In March 2023, after more than thirty years with Chanel, Olivier Nicolay resigned from his position. He was responsible for overseeing Chanel’s operations in the UK, Canada, and Latin America. Previously, Olivier Nicolay led Chanel’s lobbying efforts with other luxury retailers to persuade the UK government to reintroduce tax-free shopping, which has not yet been effective. His position as President of Chanel UK was taken over by Elizabeth Angles d’Auriac, the former CEO of Sephora, a beauty retailer under the LVMH group.

Pictured above: From top left, Richard Collasse, Christine Dagousset, John Galantic; bottom left, Alexandra McCauley, Olivier Nicolay, Nadège Winter.

Meanwhile, Chanel also welcomed some fresh blood:

In November 2023, Chanel announced the formation of a new team called “Ideation and Creative Influence Strategies,” part of Chanel’s Influence and Brand Engagement Department, led by Nadège Winter, a French executive who joined Chanel in September 2023. The team aims to lead the influence in the beauty department, “by infiltrating new communities, generating new conversations to predict, shape, and accelerate them.”

Notably, Chanel’s last major personnel adjustment dates back to December 2021, with the appointment of Leena Nair as Global CEO, filling a position that had been vacant for six years.

This Indian-British executive had no prior experience in fashion and luxury brands. During her 30-year career before joining Chanel, she served at Unilever, last holding the position of Chief Human Resources Officer and a member of the Leadership Executive. She was the first woman and the first Asian to serve as Unilever’s Chief Human Resources Officer and the youngest executive to hold that position.

After familiarizing herself with the company for over a year, Leena Nair began to boldly update the management team, paving the way for Chanel’s next phase of development.

Leena Nair

Some industry insiders believe that this series of personnel changes at Chanel is linked to the overall slowdown in the luxury goods industry. Following the lifting of pandemic restrictions, the luxury goods industry once experienced a surge in demand. Global consulting firm Bain had predicted that in the most favorable scenario, the luxury goods industry would grow by 4% in 2024, a decline from 8% in 2023, highlighting the challenges faced by luxury goods companies.

However, as one of the leaders in the luxury goods industry, Chanel remains very optimistic about the future.

In May 2023, Chanel’s Chief Financial Officer Philippe Blondiaux said in an interview with Bloomberg that although market demand had slowed down, Chanel continued to grow in the United States. Since the beginning of 2023, Chanel’s sales in the Chinese Mainland have been rebounding with double-digit growth. Additionally, as a major driver of luxury sales, China’s tourism industry is also resurging. Chanel disclosed that sales contributed by Chinese buyers in France have rebounded, although the number of visitors has decreased by nearly half, the sales are only 14% lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Chanel’s fashion business, revealed that 2023 was a good year for Chanel, with the company experiencing double-digit growth. “Since September, despite the slowdown in major economies, we have continued to grow steadily. During the pandemic, particularly due to travel restrictions, Chanel’s customers were unable to consume, but post-pandemic, these customers have returned to our boutiques in large numbers. 2024 is expected to be more peaceful, with growth slowing down but not declining.”

According to Chanel’s last publicly released annual report, in the 2022 fiscal year, all of Chanel’s product categories achieved “extraordinary double-digit growth,” driving the company’s sales revenue to increase by 17% year-over-year, reaching a record $17.22 billion. The company disclosed that nearly half of the revenue growth in 2022 came from price increases. Although the sales figures for the 2023 fiscal year have not yet been announced, Chanel’s operating revenue for 2023 is expected to be close to 20 billion euros. Traditionally, Chanel’s performance for the 2023 fiscal year will be announced at the end of May.

For more information on Chanel’s activities over the past year, download the exclusive annual report “Chanel in 2023” released by Luxe.CO Intelligence.

|Source: Bloomberg, The Business Times

|Image Credit: Chanel official website

|Editor: Liu Jun