Hermès opens first shop in Abu Dhabi at Etihad Towers

We talk to Bertand Michaud, the president of Hermes India, about what makes the Middle East market so unique.

Bertrand Michaud, the regional managing director of Hermes International SCA for Asia Pacific. Sanjit Das / Bloomberg
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Bertrand Michaud, 50, an 18-year veteran of Hermès, is in charge of management, operations and business development for India, the Middle East and South East Asia. He speaks to us about loyalty, quality and expansion as Hermès opens its first store in Abu Dhabi.

The new store opened in partnership with the Al Mana family. What has the experience taught you and how has the relationship worked?

The Middle Eastern market is a particularly unique market for us, so it is wonderful to work with a local partner who understands the market, local customs and needs. It's difficult for the European market to gain such a level of understanding, and it is imperative to get it right; what we don't know, we get help from those who do.

How did you choose the location?

We took good advice: we knew we wanted something intimate, a place that our customers would feel comfortable. We liked that it wasn't huge, and that it felt private, as we know how important discretion is to our customers here. Our customers are citizens of the world, they can buy anywhere - in London, Paris, New York or Milan - so we had to provide them with something different, something unique, something that hasn't been done before.

How do you intend to stay close to your customer with such levels of global expansion?

What most people don't know about us is that our store managers are not like any others, in that they are also our buyers. Why do we do this? To make sure that each store is unique and directed towards the particular market. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Who else knows our customers' personal needs better? It's a huge investment for us: think about it, twice a year we take our store managers from 320 stores around the world away for about 10 days. It works out to about 6,000 hotel rooms on top of plane tickets! The result? We get closer to our customers. It's part of our process, and one we feel is necessary.

What makes an Hermès product unique?

To succeed you need to set a signature. Ours is craftsmanship, creativity and quality. If you do that with consistency, in every step of the way you will make it. Everything we produce is linked. One collection may remind you of the last one, which will remind you of the next one.

Is buying an Hermès product an investment?

Let me tell you, when I was 18 my mother bought me a set of Hermès cufflinks - I still have them today. For me, Hermès is a life investment. One day, the bag I bought for my wife after I had been working with Hermès for about five years will be passed on to my daughter - she told me she wants to do that. These are the things that matter.

The 295sqft Hermès store is located on the second floor of Avenue, the luxury retail block of Etihad Towers, in the beachside Ras Al Akhdar district. Call 02 666 9720