Training Course Lasts Nine Weeks
Owner of 18 luxury “Maisons,” including Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Van Cleef & Arpels, Montblanc, Vacheron Constantin and Shanghai Tang, this week the French luxury group Richemont cemented its greater focus on the China market by opening its own “retail academy” in Shanghai. Situated on Huahai Zhong Road, amidst dozens of high-end boutiques and flagships, the school is ostensibly aimed at addressing one of the biggest issues facing the luxury industry within China: poor customer service. Attended by Richemont Group execs, the opening of the new Shanghai academy this week was lauded as a major step in teaching corporate culture, and building and maintaining an international level of service as Richemont-owned brands continue their inland expansion throughout China.
According to ELLE China, in addition to classrooms, Richemont’s Shanghai academy includes a library and computer room. Accepted applicants to the Richemont program will take part in nine weeks of training, learning a curriculum of professional skills and sales techniques taught by luxury industry experts and guest lecturers. Students will be involved in market research tasks and online courses, and be subject to practical assessments to gauge sales and management abilities. Richemont will offer five nine-week courses per year, with each course having a cap of 50 students hand-picked by Richemont through a nationwide recruitment drive in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shenyang and Kunming. As ELLE notes, the luxury group plans to groom talented students for positions at its maisons nationwide.
With major luxury groups like Richemont, LVMH and PPR allocating an ever-increasing amount of company resources and focus on the China market, we’d expect China Academies in the same vein as Richemont’s to become the norm. Luxury groups and individual brands have continually struggled with uneven training issues and employee retention for years in China, with talented managers regularly poached by rival brands. Instilling a sense of company culture via sales academies could be a good step to addressing these industry deficiencies and helping the level of customer service in the Chinese luxury market finally catch up to its rate of expansion.