Global consulting firm Boston Consulting Group predicts that the luxury market in the Middle East will double in size by 2030. From 2023’s $15.9 billion, it could hit $31.7 billion, even potentially hitting $37 billion. The main drivers are Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. With a strong commitment to delivering exceptional products and experiences, Montblanc is one of the brands that thrive in the region.
This interview features Franck Juhel as he touches upon Montblanc’s strategies, opportunities, and innovation, especially in today’s digitally driven and sustainability-conscious market. He is the president of Montblanc – Middle East, India, Africa, Greece, and Turkey.
Economy Middle East: Can you share some insights into the key growth strategies Montblanc is implementing in the Middle East, India, and Africa?
Franck Juhel: Our region is incredibly diverse, so catering to each market’s unique requirements is key for us. There are three main pillars to our growth strategy. These include expanding our product offerings, strengthening our brand presence, and enhancing our customer experience.
We’re always looking for ways to innovate and create bespoke items that appeal to customers in the region. Most recently, as an example, we launched a GCC edition Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph, limited to just 50 pieces. This exclusive collection includes distinctive references to countries in the Middle East’s GCC region, where the spirit and legacy of horse racing and fine watchmaking are equally cherished.
We have a strong network in the region, with a number of boutiques in each city, not just one. In Dubai, we have 10 boutiques. It’s a clear indication both of our commitment to the market and our confidence in its potential.
Finally, connecting with our customers is incredibly important to us, and we’re always looking for ways to enhance their experience. An example of this is our pop-up in Dubai Mall last month. This presented the latest chapter of our global campaign The Library Spirit: Episodes from Around the World.
Economy Middle East: What unique opportunities does Montblanc see in the luxury goods market in the region compared to other markets? What are some of the emerging trends or consumer preferences you have observed?
Franck Juhel: Today’s luxury consumers demand more value for their money, exceptional quality, personalized services, and unique experiences. Customers in this region are sophisticated, well-traveled, and highly discerning, and they truly appreciate the rich heritage of Montblanc.
One opportunity we see is the strong demand for bespoke items and limited-edition products. Customers want to own something truly unique, and they’re willing to pay a premium for it.
Another trend is personalization. Customers want to add their own personal touch to their items. For example, we offer a variety of personalization options for our writing instruments, such as engraving and custom nibs.
E-commerce is also growing rapidly, and brands are taking note. More and more customers are shopping online, and brands are investing in their e-commerce platforms to meet this demand.
Economy Middle East: In an increasingly digital world, how is Montblanc leveraging technology and e-commerce to reach customers in the Middle East, India, and Africa?
Franck Juhel: Digital technology has been part of our customer outreach for a number of years. It enables our customers to follow what is an increasingly common omnichannel journey. It’s a journey that encompasses researching online, visiting a boutique to touch and feel, and either purchasing there or returning online to purchase. We want to remain as close and helpful to our customers as possible.
We also want to make sure our service is consistent and seamless. Thus, no matter where our customers are shopping in the world, and on what platform, they will find assurance and familiarity in the quality service they receive.
Economy Middle East: What are your thoughts on the role of sustainability in the luxury goods industry today? How is Montblanc addressing these concerns?
Franck Juhel: Consumers are becoming more conscious of the environmental and social impact of their purchases. They are looking for brands that are committed to making a positive difference.
At Montblanc, we believe that everyone can leave a mark, and so can we as a company. We want to maximize our handprint on people and minimize our footprint on the planet.
We’re committed to reducing carbon emissions, moving towards a circular economy, and responsibly sourcing our materials. We’re taking care of our own home. This way we can leave a lasting and meaningful impact on the planet for future generations.
Economy Middle East: How do you see the luxury market evolving, and how is Montblanc adapting to these changes in our region?
Franck Juhel: The evolution of luxury is being driven by a changing consumer mindset. Today, they prioritize authenticity, purpose, and experience over more obvious extravagance. What continues to be valued, and possibly even more so, are products that showcase true craftsmanship, that tell meaningful stories, and that resonate with their personal values.
This is brought into the spotlight even more for Montblanc by our Artistic Director, Marco Tomasetta, who has brought a fresh perspective to the Maison. His creative vision has reinvigorated our collections, unlocked the rich storytelling in our 117-year-old archive, and ensured our uncompromised craftsmanship continues across all our products.
About Franck Juhel, president of Montblanc Middle East, India & Africa
As the president of Montblanc Middle East, India and Africa, Franck Juhel oversees 33 markets. He assumed this role in 2017. Previously, he was the president of the luxury company’s operations in Latin America, Caribbean and Travel Retail Americas.
Montblanc is one of the more prominent properties of the renowned Swiss Richemont group. Juhel’s tenure with the group can be traced back to 2004 in Cartier Paris’s commercial department. He has also worked for Jaeger-LeCoultre, also part of Richemont’s diverse portfolio. In addition to his corporate achievements, he also completed a TRIUM Global Executive Master of Business Administration program at LSE London, HEC Paris and NYU Stern School of Business in 2018.
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