The Greater China market environment can be notoriously tricky to navigate, from cultural sensitivities in brand storytelling, to celebrity ambassador scandals, to lightning quick changes in consumer demands. On top of this, extensive and unpredictable COVID-19 lockdowns in the Asia Pacific region and industry-wide supply chain disruptions mean luxury is often scrambling to place footholds in the market in order to bounce back for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Now, more than ever, companies now need the specialized knowledge and cultural bandwidth of local figure heads to take a more hands-on approach to driving business in the domestic market. Of course, with China on pace to becoming the world’s largest luxury market by 2025 — the mainland alone accounted for 21 percent of the luxury market in 2021 — investment in homegrown leadership is vital not only for growth but also preservation.
With big players like Valentino, Pandora, and Adidas looking toward executives with prior APAC experience, this trend of China-fluent hires has stepped up a gear in 2022. And about time too. Here, Jing Daily looks at how these C-suite hires might revive brand fortunes.
In April, Italian luxury brand Valentino appointed Janice Lam as its chief executive of China directly reporting to CEO Jacopo Venturini. Lam’s lead on expansion in the region will focus on “inspiring a sense of belonging, company passion, retail engagement, and client experience,” as detailed in Valentino’s statement release. In March of this year, the house announced a renewed focus on retail and reported 2021 sales growing 41 percent year-on-year to €1.23 billion.
With Lam’s considerable experience in the fashion and luxury sectors of the Chinese market, including general manager for China at Prada and managing director for China at Richemont-backed Alfred Dunhill, who better to spearhead customer-centric strategy than a local leader well-versed in the regional terrain of Greater China’s luxury market.
Contemporary jewelry maker Pandora has named Irving Holmes Wong as its General Manager of China. Coming from the position of Managing Director of Asia-Pacific & General Manager of China at cosmetics company Avon, Wong also previously held senior management positions at Bacardi-Martini and L’Oréal.
In his new role, he will oversee Pandora’s two-phase China business growth plan to establish core brand awareness and follow with a growing store network. Plus, Wong’s background in strategic brand-building in the region should serve as a valuable turnaround for the company in the world’s largest jewelry market.
After a 15 percent plummet in sales in the Greater China region, German sportswear giant Adidas is looking to revive sales in the mainland. Can Adrian Siu do the job?
Siu, who has an extensive history with the company with previous leading roles in Hong Kong and Shanghai, should provide indispensable local insight for the brand as a native both to Adidas and to the regional nuances of conventional cultural wisdom. His depth of understanding might even help direct the brand around controversies like the earlier boycott from domestic consumers over the Xinjiang cotton crisis.
As easing lockdown restrictions allow luxury and commerce brands in the Greater China region to look forward, it’s clear that a leadership overhaul is well due. Investment in a strong local team is necessary to help guide labels past the difficulties of cultural nuance — which requires on-the-ground knowledge that only those well-versed in the region can provide.