Our CEO Jules Sheridan sat down with Reeda Ouzerdine to discuss his latest venture, Chimera. They catch up exploring the future of retail in the luxury sector. See what they spoke about here and how to the pass the time in London.
J:What made you decide to launch Chimera?
R:We at Chimera recruitment feel that we can improve the quality of staffing in the luxury retail industry, particularly in the agency sector. We are interested to see how we can bridge the gap between the full time team members and the temps. There seems to be a disconnect in product knowledge, customer service and general enthusiasm and we want to make agency team members feel like they are part of something exciting and dynamic. Customer interaction is key to the success or failure of a business in our eyes and the staff on the front line are the first experience a customer gets with a brand. The team member should be confident, skilled and well trained to instil a feeling of trust and satisfaction in the customer.
J:How did your previous experience shape Chimera Recruitment?
R:All three of the co-founders worked as management within the luxury retail industry for over 5 years and have a combined experience of over 15 years. We worked closely with agency staff on a regular basis for both counter cover and promotion sites and we were often left frustrated by the inconsistency and lack of motivation of the staff. As managers, we knew the importance of giving our focussed attention to the customer and the negative impact that one bad experience can have on a customer to brand relationship.
J:What are the key trends driving the luxury retail climate?
R:From our experience in London’s retail climate, we have seen a shift towards a heavily influential international demographic. Middle Eastern custom makes up over 60% of the luxury fragrance industry and we have noticed the rise of the ‘influential blogger’. Customers from this area of the world are much more ‘fashion driven’ and follow the latest trends very closely. Following brexit and the fall of the pound, we noticed a huge influx of Asian customers searching out designer leather goods and skin care. It is therefore becoming more and more important to hold on to our domestic customers as trends can change very quickly. In general, we have found that our local customers provide a constant source of returning custom, making it extremely important to retain and nurture these relationships.
J:What barriers or challenges do you foresee being most troublesome for luxury retailers?
R:As the landscape and trends change, one thing must always remain constant- a passion to deliver unrivalled customer service and a memorable experience. All retailers understand the importance of a first impression and the challenge is to maintain a level of consistency through both the highs and lows of the trade year. Staffing is the most powerful tool in retail. The battle to find the right people to represent a luxury retailer is a constant challenge and we feel that more can be done to make this process easier and more innovative.
J:How do you think brands can create an innovative consumer experience in retail?
R:We like the idea of brands creating a customer experience led by a more personal and bespoke service. The individual nuances and finer details are what set one brand from another and it is important to remember that a customer never remembers what you say…. They only ever remember how you make them feel.
J:Who currently do you believe is innovating in the luxury industry in terms of fashion, beauty and perfume?
R:In terms of fragrance and our experience, Roja Parfums have revolutionised the luxury perfume industry. Roja Dove sees fragrance as a vessel to evoke emotion in us. He understands the power of scent is much more than just a commercial entity- his business has focussed on delivering a service that we feel is unrivalled in the fragrance industry.
J:How do you believe the development in technology will filter into luxury retail?
R:It is interesting to see how the digital age has had such a big impact on the retail industry already. Personal shopping has seen the biggest benefit, with customers now able to choose products on tablets and smart phones and this unlocks the ability to see more of what is on offer(Brands/sizes/colours) whilst still being able to talk through an outfit with a store stylist. As we see a trend towards a fast paced, personal service, it will be interesting to see how interactive technology will be in terms of retail. Someone recently mentioned an app that you could superimpose your full body image onto a tablet and then see how each item of clothes looks on you. We love this idea!
J:If you had 24 hours to shop and take in the city of London, where would you go and what would you do?
R:For us, the first stop would have to be the Burlington arcade. I always imagine the whole of our British Tradition and Heritage being squeezed into that beautiful walk way. You can smell the warm leather of the shoe shops and the sound of customers discovering something new and exciting. I would visit Ladauree to pick up some macaroons and then head off to Fortnum and Mason opposite for afternoon tea. I would spend the afternoon wondering along Regent street, visiting the tailors to try on the most extravagant suits and top hats. We were all actors once upon a time and so we never miss an opportunity to dress up!