INNOVATION DRIVES FASHION FORWARD

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Getting to Know Three Chinese Women Who Sit on the Boards of Western Luxury Groups

June 25,2020

The announcement that Jean Liu, President of Didi Chuxing of China, had been appointed to the board of French luxury giant, the Kering Group, on June 17, 2020, attracted widespread attention in the industry.

In an email in response to Luxe.CO, a spokesperson for the Kering Group said, “Jean Liu (below) enjoys a high reputation in the business world and her expertise will be a valuable asset in the work of the board of directors. Her Chinese identity and her position in China enables her to represent the Chinese market, which is the group's premier market, on the Kering board. She will bring to the board her extensive experience in new technologies and her deep understanding of the Chinese market.”

Looking through past reports posted by Luxe.CO, Jean Liu is not the first Chinese woman to sit on the board of a western fashion and luxury group.

Annabelle Long (below), the Chief Executive Officer of Bertelsmann China Corporate Center and the Founding and Managing Partner of Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI), joined the board of Tapestry Inc. (NYSE: TPR, which has Coach, Stuart Weitzman, and Kate Spade within its portfolio) in 2016.

Economics Professor and Chinese economy expert, Keyu Jin (below), became a board member of Richemont in 2017.

Many people wonder why international luxury groups invite these Chinese women to sit on their boards, and based on research, three keywords resonate most: China’s weight, youth power, and female leadership.

China’s Weight

The growing importance of the Chinese market to the global luxury industry has been accelerated by COVID-19. Chinese consumers accounted for 35 percent of the global luxury spending in 2019 and are expected to account for nearly 50 percent by 2025, according to the “Bain & Company Luxury Study 2020 Spring Update”.

International luxury groups make major strategic decisions at the headquarters level, and it is imperative to include board members from China in the decision-making process to enable the board of directors and senior management to better grasp the pulse of the Chinese market.

Victor Luis, the former CEO of the Tapestry Group, once said: "As Coach continues to transform itself into a global modern luxury lifestyle brand, Annabelle Long's business sense,  insight into the Chinese consumer, knowledge and experience in the Chinese media sector, and her track record in investing in digital and lifestyle businesses will add unique value to the Coach board."

In response to being asked what the most important factor was in inviting Jean Liu to the board, the Kering Group spokesperson quoted from the speech of Sophie L'Helias, the Director of the Board of Kering at the shareholders' meeting: "This latest appointment was designed to ensure that the board has talent with management and decision-making ability and professional knowledge. At the same time, it requires a deep understanding of the trends in the group's market to enable Kering to fulfill its mission and maintain and further consolidate its leadership position in the luxury sector.”

Richemont has said that Keyu Jin’s expertise in international macroeconomics, international finance, and the Chinese economy will be of great help to the company.

Youth Power

Driven by Chinese consumers, luxury brands are tending to be "younger", and elements of youth culture are increasingly penetrating the design and communication of luxury brands. The age of board members of luxury companies also reflects this change.

Keyu Jin, who was born in 1982, is one of two millennial members of Richemont’s board. Jean Liu was born in 1978, and Emma Watson, who joined the board of Kering at the same time, was born in 1990. At 46 years old, Annabelle Long is the youngest board member of the Tapestry Group.

Female Leadership

Women have gone far beyond the core "consumers" of luxury brands. Major luxury groups are taking action to enhance the importance of female leadership, driven by current trends of "diversity" and "inclusion".

Kering has 13 board members, eight of whom are women, accounting for about 61 percent. Three of the eight Tapestry Group board members are women, accounting for about 37 percent. When Keyu Jin joined Richemont, Johann Rupert, the group's chairman, said: "Richemont's consumer base is dominated by women, so it is natural that there should be more women on the board and in management."


Personal profile

Jean Liu - President of Didi Chuxing

Jean Liu joined the Kering Group's board of directors on June 17, 2020.

She graduated from Peking University, majoring in Computer Science, received her Master's Degree in Computer Science from Harvard University in 2002 and joined Goldman Sachs Asia in the same year.

Having become the Executive Director of Goldstar Asia in 2008 and later the Managing Director of Goldman Sachs Asia, Jean Liu joined Didi Chuxing as the Chief Operating Officer in July 2014, and was promoted to President on February 4 the following year.

In 2017, Jean Liu and Cheng Wei, CEO of Didi Chuxing, launched “Didi Women's Network”, a women's career growth plan to stimulate the company's multicultural atmosphere, promote the growth of women with high potential, and create a more favorable working environment for women in the workplace.

Jean Liu has been included in Fortune's list of the "World's Most Powerful Businesswomen" four consecutive times, as well as being included in Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World".

Annabelle Long - Chief Executive Officer & Managing Partner, Bertelsmann China

Having graduated from Chengdu University of Electronic Science and Technology, with a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering, she attended Stanford Business School, where she received her MBA.

In May 2019, Annabelle was included in “Forbes' China Tech 50 Women List”. In October 2019, she was selected as one of "the 30 Most Influential Investors in China 2019".

Keyu Jin – Associate Professor of Economics at the LSE, and member of the Richemont Group’s Advisory Board

Keyu Jin is the youngest Associate of Economics at the London School of Economics to hold a tenured chair. She was named "Young Global Leader" in Davos in 2014.

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