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Tiffany & Co. unveils its first flagship store in Sydney

One of five around the world, it offers Sydneysiders an extravagant shopping experience. Tiffany & Co.’s Vice President and Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, Glen Schlehuber discusses the vision, challenges and triumphs behind the store in an interview with The CEO Magazine.

Tiffany & Co. is synonymous with style and luxury, and, while we don’t expect anything less than spectacular, the brand has truly outdone itself with the unveiling of its new Sydney flagship store.

Located in the heart of the CBD, it hosted a launch party last night (Thursday 4 April) with an array of special guests attending including Kendall Jenner, A$AP Ferg, Lara Worthington and Renell Medrano.

Jenner was decked out in a glistening Tiffany & Co. pink tourmaline and sapphire butterfly necklace (with more than 400 pink sapphires) from the Tiffany Blue Book Collection and an 11-carat cushion-cut morganite which perfectly complemented her bright Ingie Paris dress.

Glen Schlehuber, Vice President and Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, of Tiffany & Co., considers the modern-meets-classic, luminescent store the greatest achievement of his career so far.

Not short of obstacles, Glen looks back on the journey with a feeling of gratification and contentment.

“It’s been a great challenge for three and a half years since we were told that the government was going to be taking our building on Castlereagh Street to build the new light rail,” he says. “We have created something incomparable with anything else in the market and, I would even venture, the world. Hands down, I’m most proud of this.”

The impressive two-level, 1,800 square metre store, located in the heart of Sydney’s shopping hub on the corner of Pitt and King streets, is undeniably beautiful. Complete with marble features laced with Tiffany’s signature shade of blue, the store boasts private salons and custom artwork designed exclusively by Australian artists.

It exudes brilliance and elegance. All of its components, from the natural light radiating through the 10-metre high skylight to the hallmark pattern on its façade – an architectural element from its New York flagship, are made to shine. The store was officially opened.

There are, of course, an abundance of glittering diamonds on display, including an assortment of rare Tiffany jewels like the heart-stopping 91-carat necklace worn by Lady Gaga at the 61st Grammy Awards.

“Our New York store influences every other store,” Glen explains. “The unique wheat leaf pattern on the outside of our building and throughout the inside is interconnected, and it lights up from within. But the Sydney store itself will be the inspiration, I think, for the other flagship stores and other markets around the world.”

Glen worked with a large team to bring the store to fruition, including consultants, designers, builders and a retail crew to achieve the outstanding result. “It’s been a collaborative process to get this store looking the way it does today,” he says. “I’m proud of the teamwork, the collaboration involved and the final product that we’re sitting in.”

“I’m proud of the teamwork, the collaboration involved and the final product.”

When Glen assumed his first management role, Tiffany’s former CFO, Jim Fernandez, gave him some advice: “You’re only going to be as good as the people that work for you,” he told Glen, who continues to live by this guidance. The collaboration of teams involved in developing this store clearly reflects this outlook.

“You need to have the best people around you,” Glen reflects. “As a manager, you don’t need to be an expert, but your team needs to be. All you need to know is enough to challenge them.”

Now in his 26th year at Tiffany & Co., Glen started as an intern in the 1990s. Though he attributes his success to “a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck”, he also recognises the importance of willpower in chasing your dreams.

“People always say that I was in the right place at the right time,” he explains. “But I don’t think it was so much that. I think people must let the universe know what their dreams and aspirations are. Talk to people about what you want to do.”

“Back in the late 1990s, I’d been working for Tiffany for several years and I was doing a lot of international travel. I was constantly saying to people, ‘It would be so great to live abroad and do an international assignment for the next few years.’ Next thing you know, an opportunity was presented to me to move to Australia in 2000.”

Glen Schlehuber, Vice President and Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, Tiffany & Co.

After two years in Australia, Glen went on to work in London, making his way back to Sydney as Managing Director in 2006. He says he’s stayed with the company for so long because it aligns with his values, specifically his stance on the environment and sustainability.

“Tiffany is a company of the highest integrity,” he says. “We source our metals from some of the most ethically run mines in the world, mostly within the United States. We cut our diamonds, polish them and set them. We grade them and then we offer them for sale. We have a vertical integration that no other company has.

“Tiffany is a company of the highest integrity.”

“We care for the natural environment, which has helped me shape my views on consumption and made me a better person for the world. There’s nothing more important to Tiffany because the environment is where we source our inspiration for the jewellery. People trust us and we’re honest. There’s always transparency; something the customers want to see.”

With evolving technology and the consumer’s shift toward ecommerce, the extravagent Tiffany in-person experience is what makes it worth coming to the store.

It’s the start of a new era and Glen wants his Sydney customers to lose themselves in the sophisticated shopping environment while perusing the dazzling offerings. “It’s a store that feels good to be in,” he says and he’s right. It’s lucent, calming and it’s the ultimate taste of luxury.

“All we want to do is curate the most seamless experience for the customer,” he explains. “In our industry, people will always want the luxury experience. We’ve made sure to create the most compelling experience within our store.”

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