Longchamp, a successful leather goods, family business since 1948
"We have concluded 2022 on levels higher than 2019, and 2023 is starting very well for Longchamp. However, even if Covid now seems to be behind us, and international tourism is picking up again, uncertainties persist and we remain vigilant," explains Jean Cassegrain, Longchamp's CEO and grandson of the founder of the leather goods house created in 1948.
A 100% independent, unlisted company, Longchamp cultivates a certain discretion, but above all a taste for family work. Jean Cassegrain works alongside his sister Sophie Delafontaine, general manager and creative director, while their brother, Olivier Cassegrain, based in New York, manages the American boutiques. And the fourth generation is already in place. Adrien and Hector Cassegrain, two of Jean Cassegrain's children, joined the company two years ago as transformation director and managing director of the UK and Ireland respectively.
Shops in China
Distributed via 1,500 points of sale worldwide, 300 of which are directly managed, the brand, which does not disclose its turnover, achieves 30% of its sales in France (Europe accounts for 50% of its total sales). A market followed by the United States and China. In fact, it is now in the Middle Kingdom that Longchamp continues to open stores. "We are well established in our main markets, we have opened a shop in Venice where we were not present, and we are going to open another in Porto in Portugal. But we don't have an intensive opening policy, we work on opportunity. On the other hand, in China, where we have 35 shops, we open five or six shops a year", explains Jean Cassegrain.
As for online sales, which have tripled for Longchamp between 2019 and 2022, they now represent 15% of the brand's turnover. "After Covid, the growth of e-commerce was impressive, but things are stabilising and the two channels are balancing out," says Jean Cassegrain, emphasising that the role of the physical point of sale has now changed. "The well-known adage in commerce of 'location, location, location' is outdated. The web has made products available very easily, so the point of sale has become a place for advice and experience. We have therefore rethought the look of our shops. We present fewer products to give more space to welcome our customers, but also for story-telling."
Since 2007, Longchamp has also offered a ready-to-wear collection, a line that the brand showed on the catwalk in New York, notably when the American Kendall Jenner was the ambassador of its campaigns. Although Longchamp's fashion offer represents a "modest" share of sales, and is only sold in about fifty boutiques, it allows Longchamp to develop a whole image around a complete silhouette. A luxury in the era of the almighty social networks.
450 jobs to be filled in 2023
In 2023, one of its cult bags, the Pliage, will celebrate its 30th anniversary. With its nylon canvas, now 100% recycled, which represents a 20% reduction in the carbon impact of each piece, this model is the spearhead of Longchamp's CSR policy. "It's true that we are used to being discreet and don't always communicate, but we are working to improve our entire value chain. For example, the linings of our leather bags are made of recycled fibres, and we now only work with tanneries with the LWG (Leather Working Group) label, which guarantees sustainable and responsible production on both an environmental and human level," explains Jean Cassegrain.
As for alternatives to leather, Longchamp is studying them, but stresses that they are still petrochemical-based materials, while natural materials such as linen and cotton are less sustainable. "Sustainability reduces the impact on the environment. Today the miracle product on an industrial scale does not really exist," concludes Jean Cassegrain.
Longchamp, which employs 3,000 people in 20 countries, and which also has an industrial side with its own production units in the Loire region in France, but also in Tunisia and Mauritius, is expected to recruit 450 people in 2023, including 200 people in France. These recruitments will take place in sales positions, in the workshops and at the head office.
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