Jan 2, 2023
A leader's perspective: 2022-23 update with Isabelle Guichot, CEO of SMCP
Jan 2, 2023
To start 2023, FashionNetwork.com asked leaders of the fashion and luxury sector to share their perspective on 2022, but also their apprehensions and hopes for the year to come. Today, the director of SMCP shares her views.
The flagship of accessible French luxury, the group, which includes Sandro, Maje, Claudie Pierlot and Fursac and which is present in more than 40 countries around the world, welcomed Isabelle Guichot as its new CEO in 2021. Piloting the French giant weighing more than €1 billion in sales, the executive, who joined the group in 2017 as CEO of Maje, has luxury written into her DNA. After her time with the Swiss Richemont Group at Van Cleef & Arpels and Lancel, she then evolved for twelve years within the Kering group, notably at Sergio Rossi and then Balenciaga.
At SMCP, she took over the reins in the midst of turmoil, from NGO's accusing the group of Uyghur forced labour, the financial difficulties of its main shareholder, at the time Shadong Ruyi (creditors, united in the trustee Glas, have since taken control), to the Covid-19 pandemic, and still, she managed to turn the tide with sales increasing by 20% to 879 million euros in the first nine months of 2022.
FashionNetwork.com: What was the highlight of 2022 for you? And why?
Isabelle Guichot: Beyond the war in Ukraine, which was obviously one of the most significant events of the year in terms of the human tragedy and its geopolitical and economic implications, this year was marked by a high level of uncertainty and a lack of visibility, for example, on the health situation in China or on the evolution of economic parameters such as inflation or energy costs. On a more personal level, I am thinking of the struggles of women around the world and more particularly of Iranian women who have been fighting for several months.
FNW: In your company, what has been the most satisfying this year?
IG: After several years marked by Covid, I am obviously thinking of the commitment, resilience and adaptability of our great teams that have enabled all our brands to perform well. I am also thinking of the successful launch of CSR initiatives that were close to our hearts: the deployment of second hand or rental services.
FNW: Which designer, fashion show, product or campaign stood out for you this year?
IG: The first Fursac presentation, of course! In June 2022, our brand joined the Men's Fashion Week calendar. A great recognition for a modern and ambitious project led by Gauthier Borsarello, who knows, with great subtlety, how to preserve the DNA and know-how of the brand.
FNW: What is the innovation, sustainable or social initiative that you remember most?
IG: In March 2022, we became one of the first accessible luxury players to offer our customers detailed and transparent information on the traceability of our products. Beyond being a vector of transparency towards our customers, our brands are now able to analyse the data continuously and optimise the impact of their supply chain. Already implemented on one hundred references per collection, we expect to have affixed a QR code allowing full traceability of each product on all products sold by the group's four brands by 2025.
FNW: What do you see as the major challenges facing the industry in 2023? And your company?
IG: For 2023, as in 2022, the entire sector will have to deal with the challenge of inflation, with consumers whose purchasing power is increasingly affected. That's why, at SMCP, we do everything possible to ensure that the desirability of our brands, from design to the presentation of our products in stores, is always the best, which is the case year after year. We will also be attentive to the recovery of activity in China and to a "normalisation" of the Asian markets.
FNW: What is your wish for this new year?
IG: A little more serenity. Since the beginning of Covid, we don't know what a base year looks like anymore. If the easing of sanitary restriction levels bears fruit quickly in the countries where the sanitary crisis is still very much present, then we can hope that the different continents will move forward at a comparable pace. That would be a first in a long time! And if it doesn't happen in 2023, then I wish us success in continuing to navigate as we have done so far, constantly adapting. I have total confidence in the ability of our teams to make 2023 a success, and I am an optimist by nature!
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