In April this year, Jérome Lambert, former CEO of Montblanc, officially took on his new role as the Head of Operation at luxury group Compagnie Financier Richemont SA. In light of this, Montblanc revealed that following Lambert’s departure, Nicolas Baretzki will step up to the plate. We sit down with the new CEO of Montblanc International to talk about where he plans to take the brand.
How did you get your start at Montblanc and how did you come to hold your current position?
First of all, I am very proud to be given this responsibility at the helm of such a revered maison. I have a good understanding of the business and the culture of Montblanc. I was given six months to prepare for this role and now I am ready to get things moving. My responsibility is to work together with the very talented team at the maison to guide it through its fascinating trajectory by developing new ideas, while nurturing its heritage that has become so valued and admired.
What are the key leadership lessons that you have learned from your predecessor, Jérome Lambert?
What I have learned is to never be afraid of trying something new and to always explore new opportunities. Montblanc’s greatest strength is its ability to constantly innovate as a way to retain that element of surprise. This is something the maison has managed to do very well, especially in these past three years. I am very honoured to be able to continue on the successful path that the maison is currently on, which includes building on current achievements and pushing innovation to greater heights.
Considering the business you are managing, what do you need to do to ensure Montblanc stays on top of its game?
It would have to be expansion of brand territory. While our vision to become the world leader of luxury accessories for men remains unchanged, the global luxury industry has become an increasingly challenging environment. As a result, Montblanc will have to reinvent itself in order to continue on this journey of growth. We will do so by strengthening our positioning as ‘The Maison of Smart Lifestyle’, so as to expand on our brand territory and forge new frontiers. At Montblanc, we strive to uplift our target audience by offering superior product functionality, aesthetics and refinement, as well as providing interesting and profound perspectives through sharing inspiring stories that acknowledge achievements while enriching one’s personality.
Montblanc will have to reinvent itself in order to continue on this journey of growth.
How will Montblanc overcome the current challenges facing the watchmaking industry?
Our key challenge has always been to remain creative and innovative, while preserving the tradition and DNA of Montblanc. Our watchmaking heritage with Minerva dates back to 1858, and involves stop watches and counters – both of which are key innovations that led to the development of professional sport watches. Not only does this give us a unique point of entry into the watchmaking arena, but also plenty of inspiration to carve a strong and distinctive future identity for the maison. Our Swiss manufactures in Le Locle and Villeret are also unique assets, as their drive to innovate combined with our unique technical positioning help in further expressing the maison’s vision of ‘sharing the passion for fine watchmaking’. This will enable Montblanc to push forward creatively and deliver a variety of choices in terms of complications, design and value that will cater to our different target audiences.
Montblanc recently announced a new collection that highlights its longstanding partnership with UNICEF. What was the initial idea behind this collaboration?
Our common belief with UNICEF is that writing is a special gift that every child should have access to. We want to help children realise their right to quality education with the goal of giving more young people the precious gift of writing, thus opening up to them a world of endless possibilities. At Montblanc, we are committed to helping all children, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic background.
What is the main theme of the new Montblanc for UNICEF collection?
‘Writing opens up the world. Pass on this precious gift.’ Writing is a key pillar of education and this is the foundation of this year’s collaboration with UNICEF. This physical manifestation of the spoken language is one of the core pillars of human civilisation, and has the power to help break cycles of poverty.
How does education benefit society?
Education is the foundation for a better future. As society advances, education plays a more significant role in all spheres of life, beyond just personal fulfilment. Not only does it stimulate the mind but it also empowers others to gain more knowledge in order to solve life’s challenges. It can also help to strengthen the economical and social environment by maximising an individual’s academic potential, while encouraging them to fulfil their dreams.
What is it about this collaboration that makes it such a good fit?
The same passion for writing that gave birth to Montblanc over 110 years ago has shaped the maison’s belief that writing is a precious gift that has the power to change the world and should be bestowed on every human being. We want to use our voice to help raise awareness for child literacy worldwide and to make a difference. Our aim is to improve learning conditions for over five million children around the world.
What makes writing with a Montblanc writing instrument such a profound experience?
Montblanc has always lived up to the highest demands of craftsmanship and innovation in order to create unique products with substance that will not only last a lifetime, but can also be passed on from one generation to the next. Since 1924, the Montblanc Meisterstück has represented excellence by combining craftsmanship with timeless design to create the perfect writing instrument. Handcrafted using the finest materials and perfected right down to the finest details, these writing instruments have been used not only to record life’s extraordinary moments, but also the thoughts of many proud owners for nearly a century. Each Montblanc writing instrument is an enduring piece of craftsmanship that caters to various needs, while the innovative ink-feeding system offers just the right amount of ink fluidity for a flawless writing experience. It will transform the way you write.
What can we look forward to from Montblanc in the future?
Montblanc has always been at the forefront when it comes to venturing into new opportunities and perspectives. It’s all part of our quest to create fine lifetime companions that leverage on a diversified product category. This year, we introduced a new theme entitled ‘Heritage Inspires’. To live up to this, we need to highlight the breakthrough moments of the maison’s rich history, while being firmly anchored in the present as well as looking forward towards the future. We will definitely have more exciting announcements to unveil soon, which we look forward to sharing with everyone.