With four standalone boutiques and 40 outlets across South Africa, Montblanc is no newcomer to the luxury scene on this continent.
No doubt the fact that his brand is well established, recognised and coveted by many in this country accounts for the relaxed and enthusiastic demeanor of the new Montblanc boss for this region.
Franck Juhel has recently been appointed president of Montblanc for the Middle East, India and Africa and was in South Africa to meet the friend of the brand, international cricketer AB de Villiers and to engage with fans of Montblanc.
His next stop is the opening of the SIHH – one of the world’s most exclusive watch fairs taking place in Geneva this week.
“At the end of the day, journalists, ambassadors, the maison – it’s a family. We might not see each other for years but we all walk together with the same purpose: To help the luxury industry to grow and to explain what luxury is about; what Montblanc is about.”
Speaking of ambassadors, Juhel had spent the previous evening in the company of cricketer AB de Villiers – a friend of Montblanc who socialised well into the night with some of Montblanc’s top customers, despite having to appear on the cricket field the next day.
“I spent a lovely afternoon with AB and his family. We are fortunate that we share the same values and that AB is recognised as much for his values on the field, as for those off the field. And that is not too common.”
Juhel said the most recent launches at Montblanc – Augmented Paper (that saves handwritten pages onto a digital platform) as well as the connected Summit watch – had enjoyed tremendous success around the world and that the brand was set for continued innovation going forward.
“Augmented Paper was the best launch ever for Montblanc. It shows that if a maison like Montblanc is able to marry its DNA and its heritage, with digital, you’ve crossed the divide. This is how you talk to the millennials,” he said.
The Montblanc Summit watch, combines the looks of a classic Swiss-made watch with smart watch technology and it has been a hit in South Africa.
This novel combination of high tech innovation from a heritage brand where the focus on craftsmanship is paramount, has shown that it is possible for brands with a rich history, to appeal to the new millennial market, says Juhel.
A new design for the Montblanc stores had also contributed to growth in all four of the Montblanc collections in the past year: writing instruments, watches, leather goods and men’s accessories.
“Our shops used to be chiefly for the writing instrument. Now each category will have its own space to express themselves.”
NEO CONCEPT STORES START ROLL OUT
A flagship Montblanc Neo concept store has opened in The Dubai Mall and more are set to roll out across the world.
Offering a multi-sensory shopping experience, the new store design is the brainchild of designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance.
The new boutique concept introduces a pure and uncluttered aesthetic, mixing black, white and wood, and features three main design themes linked to the roots of the maison.
The curved gesture that gives shape to the retail space evokes calligraphy and the culture of writing associated with the Montblanc fountain pen. The emblem, inspired by the snowcap of the Mont Blanc mountain and symbol of the highest standards of perfection, is paired with the ink shades to represent the life and soul of Montblanc, and the desire to always evolve through innovation.
Inside the boutique, alongside the black lacquered wall panels, recalling the distinctive Montblanc precious resin, an animated artistic ink flows on large screens.
At the Manufacture Bar customers can engage with product experts and those who want to enjoy the pleasure of writing will have the opportunity to test all types of writing instruments, nibs and inks. The digital corner will offer enthusiasts the opportunity to test the maison’s latest Augmented Paper editions, experiencing the ways in which the art of writing has been transposed to the digital world.
In the Leather Atelier, the focus is on a “touch and feel” experience, where Montblanc’s expertise, creativity and collections are revealed through the senses.
The Lounge provides an intimate space where collectors can view limited editions or experience Montblanc customisation services, from embossing leather goods or bespoke Creation Privée personalisation, in the most comfortable and private setting.
• Look out for the 2018 releases by Montblanc at the SIHH luxury watch trade fair taking place in Geneva this week. Follow Wanted Online for all the news from the fair – our ed Jacquie Myburgh Chemaly will be on the ground reporting for us.