Cheap Longchamp, the French independent family handbag company known for its collapsible dumpling bags, posted sales of €454 million in 2012, up 16% year-on-year and up 25% in Asia Pacific. Since 2009, the brand’s sales have increased by 75%.
Longchamp was founded in 1948 by Jean Cassegrain Sr. Priced between €250 and €800, Longchamp was a pioneer in the “light luxury” segment of the leather goods industry.
Longchamp was the first company to sell European handbags in Asia, according to current CEO Jean Cassegrain, who says the company’s history is not that long. As early as the 1950s, Longchamp expanded into Asia, with a particular focus on the Japanese market, and in 1956, the current CEO’s father, Philippe Cassegrain, sailed all the way to Singapore and Hong Kong to sell their bags.
Today, Asia, particularly China and Southeast Asia, is the main driver of Longchamp’s sales growth. Although China’s share of the market is still behind France, the United States, Japan and Germany, the Asian flagship store in Hong Kong, which opened in October 2012 on Canton Road, has quickly risen to become one of the world’s top five selling stores, and, according to Jean Cassegrain, is also a large billboard advertising the Longchamp brand to tourists visiting Hong Kong from mainland China.
Like other luxury brands, Longchamp has inevitably been affected by the economic climate. This year’s sales growth is expected to be less than 10 percent.
In September 2013, Longchamp’s first European flagship store opened in London’s Regent Street. This year also saw the opening of new stores in Rome, Tel Aviv, Abu Dhabi and Sao Paulo. Next year, new stores will open in Munich and Barcelona.
Longchamp uses a direct-operated approach in all major mature markets, with branches in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. For more complex market conditions and smaller territories, such as Thailand and Indonesia, sales are made through franchised distributors.
Cheap Longchamp bags are produced in France, while shoes and garments are produced by French and Italian outsourcers.
Longchamp outlet has long been plagued by the problem of counterfeiting: Jean Cassegrain mentions that there is a website in China that sells counterfeit Longchamp products, and even the design of the website is modelled on their website.
Speaking of independence, Jean Cassegrain said, “We want and intend for the business to remain independent for as long as possible, and we don’t feel any pressure to sell the company.”