There are certain brands that are synonymous with luxury and high-end craftsmanship – known for being the crème de la crème of their market. When it comes to crystal, that brand is Baccarat. Whether it’s a glass of Champagne on a special occasion or an opulent chandelier at an exclusive restaurant, chances are it’s made from Baccarat crystal if you’re trying to make a good impression.
“I believe Baccarat has no competition,” says the company’s passionate CEO Daniela Riccardi. “Baccarat is different from many other luxury brands; it produces everything it sells. There are other crystal producers that do beautiful things, but none of them have the attitude Baccarat has. None of them have the fame, the history.”
It was this same passion and respect for quality and luxury that lured Daniela away from her 25-year career with Procter & Gamble – first to a fashion label, and then to the CEO role of the French fine crystal company.
When she joined Baccarat, a brand that encompasses crystal tableware, accessories and jewellery as well as museums, hotels and restaurants, it was celebrating its 250th birthday. It’s a weighty and rare occasion to reach such a milestone in business, and the challenge of joining a company with such a heritage piqued Daniela’s interest.
“I was tempted to try to turn Baccarat around … it’s an amazing brand with an amazing history, but it was not a very wealthy company,” Daniela explains. However, she knew she could draw on her experience with more structured and bigger businesses to try to make the brand live another 250 years or more.
That was in 2014. Today, Daniela explains how she progressively went about her mission. “For five years, I worked very hard,” she says. “We are all very proud that this company is financially very healthy, and it continues to make amazing creations. We are now starting a new chapter but on a much more solid base, financially and from an image point of view.”
This is a reference to the mid-2018 news of Baccarat’s €164 million acquisition by Fortune Fountain Capital, which has Chinese businesswoman Coco Chu at its helm.
“The brand is global, known all over the world, however the presence is scattered,” says Daniela. “One of the big opportunities for growth is a stronger presence.”
Daniela reveals that Baccarat’s plan is to offer more experiential retail. “Our format for the future is boutiques and lounges, meaning you have the opportunity to experience the product, and then you want to buy it even more,” she says. “We want to enlarge the presence of the brand, particularly in markets like Greater China, Asia in general and the US – the biggest luxury markets in the world. We still have a lot of opportunities.”
– It takes 15 years to master the techniques to tap into the infinite possibilities for sculpting crystal.
– Baccarat boasts the highest number of Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (Best Craftsmanship) awards in France, more than any other French luxury house.
The brand is not only expanding geographically, but also planning to branch out into new categories, such as fragrances and furniture. Baccarat also aims to expand its partnership with former shareholder Starwood, which will see more luxury hotel openings following the success of Baccarat Hotel New York.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the high-end talent of Baccarat’s craftsmen. “We have amazing artisans who have been trained to be the best in their field, are recognised by the French Ministry of Culture for their excellence and have skills unmatched in the rest of the world,” says Daniela.
“We produce everything in the same plant where Baccarat started 255 years ago,” she points out. “That is unique. It’s the same plant, the same furnaces. That said, we need to gain the confidence and trust of our clients every day, and we try to do that with our operational excellence.”
According to Daniela, understanding the Baccarat client today is not only about serving the loyal customers who have been buying the brand’s crystal for years, but also about recognising how the company can tailor the brand for a new generation of luxury customers, including the younger generation and those in the important US and Chinese markets.
After accumulating more than 30 years of business experience, Daniela reveals that her keys to success are passion and discipline. “You need to be passionate about your brand, about the opportunity and what can be done, but it’s not enough … passion without discipline doesn’t go very far,” she says. “I try to teach this to my people because I believe this combination is essential for success in business.”
As for the future and new opportunities, Daniela will be leading Maison Baccarat with two things in mind. “I always make sure that every morning I wake up and come to work with a good dose of two things in my blood: vision and courage,” she says.