Glamorous Chinese lifestyle brand Shanghai Tang celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Since 2008, the label has been owned by Richemont, the prestigious luxury goods conglomerate, with the brand currently concentrating on maintaining its dominance in key Asian hubs while making London its base for European development. Although originally founded by Sir David Tang, executive chairman Raphael le Masne de Chermont who joined the brand in 2002, following stints at Cartier and Piaget, has played a major role in the brand’s success both at home and abroad.
As a child I wanted to be a baker in the morning – I love pastries – and Zorro in the afternoon. When I left France for the UK in 1987, fresh from graduation, there were two industries that the French were recognised for – food and luxury. Since I can’t cook, I had no choice but to join the luxury business.
I came to London in 1987 and joined Cartier as assistant to the then managing director Anthony Marangos. The first thing he made me do was a filing of the VIP database, all the names, one by one. After two days I said, “I think I could help you with something else”. He said, “You are such an arrogant little so-and-so, but I don’t mind.” Then he asked me to do a market survey on opening up a Cartier boutique in the City, it was the time of the big bang, when times were tough, and it gave me lots of insight into selling.
The most incredible mentor I’ve ever had is Former Richemont Chief Executive Alain Dominique Perrin. He is an incredible leader of people. I’ve never met such a charming person in my career, but he’s also extremely demanding. You would do anything for him. Also, if you have any problem, or take a risk – he will back you up. He taught me confidence and how to manage people. His management style is quite Latin, it’s more emotional than the US style, but it works. Read more.