Luxury law experts Carol Osborne of Bryan Cave Leighton Paiser and HGF's Antony Gold share their views on luxury trends post-pandemic.
Carol Osborne co-leads the EMEA M&A and Corporate Finance team for Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner in London. With thirty years of experience advising private and public companies on complex corporate legal issues, she has particular expertise working with manufacturers, retailers and private equity investors in the retail sector. She believes that luxury brands are rising to the challenge posed by the coronavirus through technology and active client management.
"With stores closed and the high-touch sales process unique to luxury brands disrupted (hopefully temporarily), brands are exploring new ways of staying in touch with their best clients and identifying alternative ordering and payment strategies to achieve both continued customer engagement and sales of key seasonal pieces," she says.
Ms Osborne does not believe that brands are shifting solely to eCommerce "which does not always showcase luxury brands to their fullest advantage. Rather, it is a critical combination of the technological solutions offered by eCommerce with active client relationship management. Every sale transaction, even online, is designed to deliver the same sense of personal attention and service, as well as that thrill of acquiring a truly unique or coveted item, that is normally achieved in their boutiques."
HGF partner Antony Gold has specialised in intellectual property work for almost 20 years. He says technology will continue to be a key factor in the recovery for luxury companies after the lockdown. "There is bound to be lockdown-related contraction. And at the moment there are indications of lockdown-related shifts in spending towards areas such as online and other home entertainment, DIY etc. The key question will be the changes which will continue after the lockdown ends."
He says that based on conversations with work colleagues and clients, " it seems likely that a lot of the shift to home-working will be long-term, now that many businesses realise that they can function effectively in this way and that by doing so, they can shrink their rent bill, reduce their overheads, help the environment and improve the quality of life for employees."
In his view this will mean more leisure-orientated spending for employees who are less time-poor and have reduced commuting costs. Retailers who want to shift away from bricks and mortar "will be investing in technological advances to help replicate the in-store experience as far as possible online (we are advising on patents in this area). These have been long-term trends anyway but the speed of change seems likely to be greatly accelerated."