An Evening With Philippe Farnier, CEO, Rémy Martin, Rémy Cointreau Group

You took over at Rémy Martin at a time when its stock had taken a slight fall, when you arrived what were and are your priorities to bring it back to full profitability and raise its brand profile?

At Rémy Martin, we have a clear vision of what the future of luxury looks like. Our vision has been formed through “Exception Durable” (Sustainable Exception): a quest for long-term excellence that is respectful of people and the environment, and that has a realistic and positive view of a more responsible future. “Exception Durable” echoes our company values: to preserve our terroir, to commit to people (to people in our company and, on a wider scale, to people in general), and to respect the value of time.

Finally, we maintain lasting and authentic relationships with our customers. Effectively, our duty is to provide an exceptional experience, which means no compromise on the quality of our grapes, nor our eaux-de-vie, nor our cognacs. This duty is also part of our “Team Up For Excellence” communication campaign, designed to celebrate the talent of our collaborators, which is key to our collective success. It would be impossible to achieve what we do without them

What do you think the fundamentals of leadership are?

In my opinion, the fundamentals of good leadership include: managing the unexpected; building a community centred around learning; creating a positive group dynamic; being able to learn faster than the competition; putting people at the top at the company’s priorities and helping them excel; learning from mistakes; clarifying roles and responsibilities; and embracing change. A good team is a good team…

What is your leadership style?

I believe in a participative management style, which encourages entrepreneurship, creativity, agility and inclusivity. It creates an optimistic environment, which in turn encourages my employees to achieve their very best.

How did you first become involved in the luxury industry?

My career actually began in the luxury goods industry, in the fragrance sector. Perfume calls upon the senses, memories, travel… In this industry, you learn to respect raw materials, respect different cultures and respect the men and women that come together to create excellence.

I also discovered this mindset at Rémy Martin. The Wine Growers, Coopers and Cellar Masters all uphold such passion and savoir-faire to produce excellent cognacs. We are touching here on an intrinsic reality, which is interesting to transmit. This is, in my opinion, real luxury. 

How passionate about are you about the luxury industry and products? And what motivates you?

I have always had a passion for craftsmanship, as well as for artistic and creative professions that strengthen our savoir-faire. These professions, that exist around the luxury sector, are above all respectful of raw materials and extend transmission, sharing and refinement.

What motivates me about the luxury goods industry is meeting passionate men and women, awakening the senses, the contact with raw materials and the emotions that emerge from all this… A certain alchemy, creating pleasure. All of this is the essence of luxury to me.

Would you describe yourself as a creative?

It would be presumptuous of me to say yes. I don’t know if I am a creative as such, but every day I try to create an environment that helps me and my team to be more creative in what we do.

Do you still have the same passion for business as you did when your first started out in your career? And what do you think you bring to the Rémy Martin brand going forward in terms of expansion into other areas, i.e. retail outlets and for example, exhibitions such as La Maison Remy Martin etc?

I hope to be even more passionate than I was in the early days!

Life is made up of so many different personal and professional experiences, which fill me every day with the same passion as on day one. Working for luxury brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Dior was definitely useful, and helped me gain a better understanding of the demands and challenges of retail. My experience working for Heineken Group in France and Spain also made me aware of the importance of on-site presence and the crucial role that our partners – such as Bartenders, Restaurants and Chefs – play in our distribution strategy.

The rest of this editorial will be published at a later date.