Meet Jean-Marc Loubier, CEO of Delvaux, the World’s Oldest Fine Leather Luxury Goods House

Lindsay Judge   |   03-06-2022

Jean-Marc Loubier, CEO of Delvaux discusses the brand’s arrival in the Middle East and the future development of the company.


Delvaux is the oldest fine leather luxury goods house in the world. The Belgium brand began creating products in 1829 and has had continuous manufacture ever since. In 1908 it was the first house to file a patent for the design of the modern handbag as we know it today.


With a rich and fascinating history, the Belgium brand has stayed very humble, quietly developing itself under the radar for almost 200 years. After being acquired by the Richemont group in 2021, Delvaux has accelerated its growth globally, recently arriving in the Middle East for the first time with the opening of a store in Dubai. Driving this growth is CEO Jean-Marc Loubier. Loubier has vast experience in the luxury industry, having previously held executive leadership positions within the LVMH Group before becoming CEO of Delvaux in 2021.


He is credited for his innovative and strategic insights, and his ability to drive change and sustainable development with successful execution and a strong team spirit bringing value to the brand and company. Now with the world of Delvaux at his fingertips, Loubier is spreading the message and values of the brand to the rest of the world. We discover more about its arrival in the Middle East and its continued development.


The Dubai Mall boutique


Welcome to Dubai – why did you choose now to launch Delvaux here in the region and what are your plans moving forward in the Middle East?

Development is always a question of timing and something that needs to be done step by step and we have reached the point where we can share what we do with The Middle East. Dubai is the leading point for luxury in the region so if we are going to start somewhere this is the most important city. The boutique is very striking without being too ego-centric, It will be followed later on by new stores in Saudi Arabia and in the other Emirates in the UAE but for now, this is the start and so far it’s proved to be quite positive.


What is your core focus in the region and how do you hope to develop the relationship with clients here?

We want to target the local community and I feel it is a mark of respect for us to come to them and open our stores in the Middle East. Whenever we arrive somewhere in the world we always come very uniquely in the sense that we only sell our products in our own stores and the strategy for our retail network is very specific. The concept of our stores is that there is no set concept. Each one is a new experience and we don’t duplicate our stores across the world, we always invent a new way. So each is very different from the other.


I hope we will see a lot of Emirati people visiting as well as other Middle Eastern nationalities as we want to reach out to the population of this part of the world. Of course, there is also interest from international tourists, as Dubai is such a cosmopolitan city, so we have a great balance. But the core focus of our store is to be dedicated to the customer from the region.


Our retail network covers all the best spots in the world. In New York we’re on Fifth Avenue, in London we’re on New Bond Street, we are always in the centre of every city that our stores are located in, and with an outstanding location, we must have outstanding stores. All of our stores are very different as I mentioned so I’m sure that we will attract more interest and I’m sure that we’ll learn that these people travel and they will like to see what’s going on with all our stores around the world so we can add values to their experience.


The Dubai Mall Boutique


With a brand that has so much history, how do you go about translating it for the present day and ensuring that you also stay relevant?

Before history we have moments. We are a company that designs, manufactures and sells so we have a complete 360 offering. And on top of that, we are a very historical company. But we are not a museum. We need to be current and relevant and we need to invite clients to develop an interest in where we come from but also understand who we are today. To do this we have to be current but also classic. This balance is about always moving forward and that’s what we do. We have a lot to share because we are the eldest luxury bag company in the world. But if you just base yourself on your past, it’s like reading a history book. So the secret for a company like ours is to always balance these historical elements with being current and relevant today. We must always have an element of teasing. That’s why the stores are all different because we want our clients to understand who we are and where we come from. If you visit our stores you will find some of the tools that we use in our factory for example. So visitors can discover the story of how the products are made. This is a way of instilling a dialogue. It’s about creating a lifestyle experience for our clients so they can discover all elements of our universe


What is the biggest challenge that you face?

Ten years ago the company was very small but I was very conscious of the potential of the brand. I have a lot of experience in the luxury industry and when you take on a new task you use that experience as expertise, but you don’t do the same thing again. You always develop and build on what you did before. So for me, bringing the brand to Richemont was a way to be surrounded by very respectful people who understand long-term what the brand is about. We are on a trial for long-term success but we cannot just keep repeating the same things, we need to develop. The way I treat Delvaux is to see it as a diamond, with many facets. For us, the key is being about to speak about those different facets, and they all come together as this diamond.


The Dubai Mall boutique


What opportunities or challenges does being part of the Richemont Group offer?

For me being part of the group is a great opportunity and it has enabled us to come to the Middle East more quickly. Ten years ago the sales outside of Belgium for the company were less than three per cent and today sales of Delvaux outside of Belgium are around 90 per cent. So the company has changed tremendously. Not only have we been investing in the stores and the team but we have also invested heavily in the workshops. We now have three workshops; one in Belgium and two in France where we create all our products in-house.


Can you tell us a little about the craftsmanship at Delvaux and the importance of preserving these skills?

More than preserve we want to develop these skills. Craftsmanship is something that you have to develop over time because people can come to us and have been trained somewhere else, but it takes time to learn the Delvaux way and to understand our spirit. When people come to our company they move step by step to learn everything they need to learn, one stage at a time. It’s a long process. We have around 400 people working in our workshops and they have to develop their skills and take on new challenges. When we launch new collections or new variations on existing bags, we play with our creation and design so they need to develop with this. We are not about being in fashion, we play with creativity that is supposed to be long-lasting. We are a very modern company in a way because now everyone is talking about doing this and we have always been doing it!


As you are expanding as a brand, how do you keep up with the demand and ensure you have the expertise to make new products to meet customer demand?

We are always recruiting people and training and it is an endless process. We are continuously increasing the capacity of what we can do.


The Dubai Mall boutique


What can we expect from the latest collections and the upcoming collections from Delvaux?

We develop long-lasting products so our collections are more than just new collections. We build on our success by taking our classics and continuously developing them. For example, we launched a bag; the “Brillant”, in 1958 at the World Expo in Brussels. This bag is until today our top-selling product. Our original designs are decades old but we continuously build on them and that makes our products long-lasting but also appealing to clients today. Of course, you expect a bag to be functional, but we are also fulfilling desire. We tease that desire and then people crave it and feel the need to have it. But most importantly, once they have it, they keep it and they know it will last and can be passed down through generations. Our bags are companions for life. We want to create a community with our clients and welcome them to the world of Delvaux.


How do you keep in touch with clients once they have purchased your products?

This is why we have our own stores so we can welcome our clients at any time. They can contact us through our digital platforms and we have events and digital activities for them. We want to welcome them to our world and feel that it’s interesting to understand what we do. We don’t just sell products, we offer a service. We value our clients and we are not arrogant as a company.


What is something you would still like to do with the brand?

To me, this brand is a beautiful living brand, beyond bags. We stand for a philosophy of life and a certain culture that we share and care for to transmit to others. We are against massification, we try to have a kind of friendly sharpness and we do that with care and with wit. When people think about us, we want them to have a little smile on their faces. Of course, I want to see more Delvaux stores but with a very strong identity. I want to ensure that this uniqueness comes through in everything we do and I want people to understand the difference between our brand and others. We want them to be interested to discover what we do and we want to offer a unique experience for customers every time they come to us.


How would you describe Delvaux in one word?

I can’t describe it in just one word because it is much more complex than that!


What is the message of the brand that you would like to share with our readers and your fans here in the Middle East?

When you come to the store you will have the impression that it was designed just for you. It will be a very unique experience and it’s designed to attract you to a world where you are the most important person. Once you come to us you will be interested in what we propose and you will want to own it for yourself but with the idea that later on, you will pass it on to someone else.