Franck Juhel was appointed President of Montblanc Middle East, India and Africa in September 2017. As President, he has delivered great expertise and innovation to the brand, leading its development, expanding trade relations and enhancing communication strategies in both domestic and travel retail networks. In Kuwait for the opening of Montblanc’s newly renovated boutique at 360 Mall, our Katia Abbas sat down with him and discussed the brand, its highlights, and learned his definition of luxury.
2019 has been a challenge within every sector of retail. What is the spirit at Montblanc as you move into 2020? I hope I will be able to sleep a little in 2020! Our spirit is as good as it always is though! In times like this you either see only the challenges or you see the opportunities. We see the opportunities. My job is to make sure we seize all the opportunities as they arise. We want to bring the Montblanc experience and the Montblanc atmosphere to the region. To deliver it the same way as any customer could expect everywhere else in the world.
With writing instruments, leather, travel, watches, new tech and accessories in the collection – how best would you describe the brand and its DNA to a newcomer in the luxury business? The brand is the same brand as when it was established by our founders. They were pioneers then, we are pioneers now. We have many innovations coming every year. Since our early days, we’ve become known for the quality of our products. I think they best way to explain Montblanc to a newcomer is through these two characteristics – a pioneering spirit, and high quality. We are, essentially, a luxury lifestyle business.
Craftsmanship and the human touch are at the core of every Montblanc product. Tell us more about the lengths that you go to in order to ensure you’re shipping the very finest of products. Let me take, for example, 1858. It is a watch line that took four years to develop. Throughout the process, it’s not one watchmaker working on it – it’s a whole team. There are designers too, executives, the marketeers – each step delivers a high level of control. It ensures we deliver the very best, every time.
It’s been 10 years since the Great Characters collection first launched. How has the response been? Amazing, year after year. Each time we launch a new character, it sells out almost before it reaches the boutique. The collectors are always waiting! Here, in Kuwait, our partner Beidoun have a waiting list ready every time we launch a new piece. It is incredible!
What were the strong lines for Montblanc of 2019? Why did they succeed? One of our greatest successes was with the launch of our new luggage collection. As far as watches go – the 1858 was so successful it sold out. Bad news for some, but good news when you can’t deliver because demand is so high! In terms of writing instruments, we launched a new Starwalker Collection. It is an icon and emblem of Montblanc. When you touch something like this, as a brand, you’re always concerned as to the customers’ reaction. The new collection was very well received – it has relaunched the whole Starwalker line globally.
What trends will reveal themselves at Montblanc in 2020? Unfortunately, I can’t yet share with you what will be revealed – not yet, anyway! But, we’ll enter even more deeply the world of new technology. Keep watching us! There will be a new writing instrument line – strongly linked to the Middle East!
What, for you, defines luxury as we move in to the third decade of the 21st century? My personal luxury is to spend time with my children. As a professional – luxury is about the individual. we all have our own way of defining luxury. for some it can be a service, for some a product, for some a vacation. However, where we all meet, at Montblanc we cover the global meaning of luxury… the best service and the best products.