Andrew Keith, the new president of Lane Crawford took the helm of Hong Kong's largest luxury department store on January 4th as he moved into his new office in Time Square. The announcement of this reshuffling sent rumours flying: Is Joyce merging with Lane Crawford? Will there be a repositioning of Lane Crawford? Why have they conjoined the two stores' senior management?
In his first week in the office, Keith is not wasting any time dusting his new desk, as he announced a block of immediate expansions to Lane Crawford's existing Hong Kong outlets in Time Square, IFC and on Canton Road. He also clearly signaled Lane Crawford's long-term direction in China as he broadcasted new store openings in the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu, projected to open in the next three years.
2010 was a busy year for both Joyce and Lane Crawford, having both caused quite a buzz with massive celebrations for their 40th and 160th anniversary, respectively. Asia Tatler sits with Andrew Keith to learn more about his new role at Lane Crawford and the future of Joyce.
Asia Tatler: Congratulations on your new role in Lane Crawford, what do you hope to achieve in your new position?
Andrew Keith: It'd be great to grow the Lane Crawford business, it is completely exciting, obviously because I started in Lane Crawford in operations, I'm quite familiar with how the business operates, so it is very exciting to really work the two brands together.
AT: Is the move of instituting you as president of both Joyce and Lane Crawford signaling a merger of any sort?
AK: We are really not merging anything, both have their own identities and they will both continue to operate independently, the consequence of overseeing both of them make for more clarity with strategy, and a little more internal communication. But they are very much detached businesses.
AT: What are the predominant differences between Joyce and Lane Crawford?
AK: Lane Crawford has a wide assortment of clothes and the ability to touch more people, that is the approach. It is the undisputable fashion powerhouse, in terms of giving brands an opportunity to showcase to a wider audience. Whereas Joyce is very fashion forward, avante garde and very much edited.
AT: Last year marked the 40th anniversary for Joyce, can you tell us how Joyce Ma's legacy is carried through, and what the position of the boutique is?
AK: Joyce had an incredible vision: 40 years ago she envisioned how fashion would be like in Hong Kong, and she foresaw what the customers in Hong Kong would be looking for and have given us considerable legacy to work with.
We are not here to preach fashion, we are here to introduce the most dynamic fashion and embrace individuality, we can help our customers develop themselves [in this regard], but we're not trying to convert anybody.
AT: Moving forward, what is the direction of Joyce?
AK: Our Admiralty space has been repositioned so that 70 percent of the brands available are specific for the location. It is an incubator space for showcasing and has proven to be very successful. The Hong Kong customer wants something new, and these brands can test how customers respond to their brand by starting in an incubator way.
AT: There are those who think fashion has gone commercial, and claim that "fashion is dead", what do you have to say to that?
AK: I would completely refute it, fashion is one of the greatest art forms, it is an emotional self-assuring expression of individuality whoever you are. It has to be one of the most alive, biggest, constantly dynamic and changing businesses and industries in the world. I can't see how it could be dead.