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  • Harry Fane

Shared vision.....

One hundred years apart in time but remarkably similar in ambition, here are two men, one who influenced Cartier in the past and one who is leading Cartier into the future. The first is, of course, Louis Cartier and the other Johann Rupert.

This is the story of the recently announced joint venture between Farfetch, Alibaba Group and Richemont. The aim: to ‘accelerate the digitisation of the luxury industry’.

Immediately described as a ‘visionary initiative’, this is the Great Leap Forward for Cartier. Long gone are smart men in tail coats ushering you into private salons to show their latest creations. Today we are the ‘click and collect’ generation and this joint venture aims to promote luxury goods in a totally modern way whilst, at the same time, transplanting the tail coated salesmen of yesteryear into this modern format.

Johann Rupert is a rare man who will achieve this. His vision to expand Cartier matches Louis Cartier’s own vision.

This what the principals said at the announcement:

José Neves, Farfetch Founder, Chairman and CEO said: “This announcement is a major step in our mission to connect the curators, creators and consumers of the luxury fashion industry. The $1.15 billion investment in Farfetch from Alibaba Group, Richemont, and Artemis is a strong validation of our position as the global platform for luxury.

Daniel Zhang, Chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group, said: “This highly complementary partnership brings together some of the world’s leading luxury retail and technology platforms, representing another milestone in Alibaba’s strategy to meet the rapidly growing demand for luxury products in China. The Chinese luxury market – which is expected to account for half of global luxury sales by 2025 – consists of hundreds of millions of young, digitally‐native consumers. By partnering with Farfetch and expanding our existing relationship with Richemont, we will accelerate the digitisation of the global luxury retail industry and transform the luxury shopping experience for consumers.”

Johann Rupert, Chairman of Richemont, said: “Building on our successful joint venture with Alibaba, these developments represent a further meaningful acceleration of our journey towards Luxury New Retail. This initiative brings together a powerful combination of highly complementary strengths ‐ notably with our Maisons’ luxury retail expertise and YOOX NET‐A‐PORTER’s deep brand partnerships, expert curation and exceptional customer care ‐ that will help us deliver a seamless omnichannel experience to our discerning clientele.

Partnerships make you stronger. I am delighted to partner with Daniel, José, and François‐Henri to bring our shared vision to fruition, setting new standards for the future of luxury.“

François‐Henri Pinault, Chairman, Artemis, said: “The growth potential of luxury e‐commerce has never been so promising, and the importance of China for the luxury industry is only becoming more obvious every day. Thanks to the vision of José Neves, Farfetch played an important role in improving the omnichannel experience for luxury customers in recent years. The investment by Artemis demonstrates

our belief in the future of Farfetch and I am personally looking forward to exploring the future of luxury retail with this group of visionaries and experts.”

Although I am not sure what an ‘omnichannel’ experience is exactly, I am sure this is a space worth watching as a new page is turned in the extraordinary history of Cartier.

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