Franck Juhel has a rare pedigree. Montblanc’s president of the Middle East, India and Africa started his career with luxury giant Richemont in 2004, working in the commercial department of Cartier in Paris.
Since then, his upwards trajectory has been impressive, with roles in Cartier’s perfume and leather categories in the Latin American and Caribbean region, before joining Jaeger-LeCoultre in 2006, where he held senior management positions as commercial director and regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, and head of the company’s Spanish operation.
In his current role with Montblanc, Juhel leads a Middle East-based regional team also responsible for India and Africa – a region considered strategically important to the brand, which continues to deliver consistent growth for the Maison thanks to its broad portfolio of writing instruments, timepieces, leather goods, jewellery and accessories.
We hear from Juhel about his thoughts on the past year and the months ahead in the luxury watch market.
What is the spirit of Montblanc for 2019?
The spirit is the continuation of our Montblanc1858 Collection with new models for this year.
This includes the Geosphere which has become a reference for the watch world – it is a truly distinctive Montblanc timepiece that knows no equal. The vintage inspired 1858 collection this year introduces a spectacular green dial and warm bronze.
How do you evaluate 2018 in light of the global economic situation?
On a global level, performance for Montblanc was positive and in line with our forecast. We can say the same for our region, which presented both healthy growth and good opportunities.
Last year our region grew to include the whole continent of Africa, which presents excellent potential for Montblanc across all our categories, including luxury watches.
We are fortunate to have many long-time collectors across Africa, in addition, of course, to our community of collectors across the Middle East and India. Our strategy and goal is to provide all our customers with the products, service and experience of Montblanc in their own countries, thus enabling them to purchase Montblanc products without having to travel abroad.
What makes your brand special and different from other luxury brands?
Each and every Maison has its own identity, and Montblanc’s watchmaking legacy is earned through our two watch manufactures in LeLocle and Villeret. The latter, known as Minerva, is one of the oldest manufactures in Switzerland and last year we celebrated its 160th anniversary. When you have a manufacturer like this, you can appreciate that it comes with extensive archives and rich history.
Being relevant and authentic for our customers is part of our DNA, thereby staying true to the Swiss codes of fine watchmaking – essentially a mechanical movement made in a manufacture in Switzerland.
Montblanc is a maison that resonates across generations of clients, including our growing millennial segment, because we are relevant and in touch with things that are important in today’s world. That is also why, as a brand with purpose, Montblanc decided not to give gifts to our partners during SIHH this year, but instead to donate the money to a charitable foundation working to help protect the Mont Blanc mountain.
How satisfied is Montblanc with its presence in the Middle East and GCC countries?
We were one of, if not the first, luxury brand to come to the Middle East, and in terms of geographical reach we have a strong and well-established presence today. As the president of the region, my work is to make sure that the service and experience which our clients and the friends of the brand are getting is as good or better than in any other region in the world.