Yves Carcelle, Chairman & CEO of Louis Vuitton Malletier, the most valuable and most counterfeited luxury brand in the world, was recently in India to open the company's store in Chennai - its fifth in the country. He spoke to N. Madhavan on the evolving Indian market and how Louis Vuitton maintains its brand value. Edited excerpts:
On India as a luxury market: India has evolved like any other country. At the beginning it is the discovery of luxury. People work hard, make money and treat themselves to a luxury product. Soon their taste gets sophisticated and they become connoisseurs of luxury. Ultimate luxury, to me, is like a universal language.
On maintaining brand value: We never compromise on quality. We are the only brand where you can bring a trunk which is 150 years old and we will restore it. We never compromise on distribution. Not even a single product of ours is sold outside a Louis Vuitton store. We own all the Louis Vuitton stores in the world. We never compromise on the investment in the store. We also never compromise on the quality of staff and creativity.
On lessons India taught him: Lot of things - patience, tolerance and how to survive in chaos. If you can't handle these things, you can't do business in India. Honestly, look at the number of multinational companies run by managers of Indian origin. Indian managers are exposed to a competitive and diverse environment early on and are quite well trained to head a multinational company.
On fighting counterfeit products: We have a zero tolerance for counterfeits. We are one of the toughest when it comes to chasing and fighting counterfeiters. Sometimes things get administratively complicated in India, but when it comes to counterfeits the law is sufficient.