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S.T. Dupont & Davidoff of Geneva
Store-in-Store Debuts

By E. Edward Hoyt III

Davidoff of Geneva’s Madison Avenue store in New York is now host to a new S.T. Dupont boutique that carries the full product line of luxury French accessory maker.

S.T. Dupont, the Paris-based luxury accessory and pen producer, has launched a new New York retail boutique, marking what the 135-year-old French manufacturer hopes will be the start of continued growth in the U.S. market. The new shop is actually a collaboration with Davidoff of Geneva’s flagship Madison Avenue shop, which is hosting the S.T. Dupont boutique as a “shop-within-a-shop” - a dedicated area of the existing Davidoff shop that now carries the French manufacturer’s entire product line.

“We’ve always carried a full line of the S.T. Dupont smoking accessories,” explains Michael Herklots, general manager both of the Davidoff of Geneva stores in New York, noting Davidoff’s full assortment of S.T. Dupont lighters, cutters, ashtrays, cigar cases, and humidors. But the new partnership now opens up access for U.S. customers to S.T. Dupont’s complete product portfolio, including pens and writing accessories, leather goods, and men’s accessories.

The new S.T. Dupont Shop-in-Shop Corner premiered during a private opening night reception on September 15, 2009. Alain Crevet, c.e.o. of S.T. Dupont Paris, and Michael Reynolds, c.e.o. of Lotus MJYX - the U.S. distributor for S.T. Dupont - were in attendance to inaugurate the boutique.

“There’s been a wonderful synergy and working relationship for a number of years between the Davidoff stores in New York and S.T. Dupont,” says Herklots. “We’re excited to take this next step with our two brands. Our Madison Avenue store has always maintained a selection of the finest cigars and good life accessories, including those by S.T. Dupont. This new collaboration with S.T. Dupont allows us to offer our customers an even greater range of unique merchandise, in keeping with what they’ve come to expect from Davidoff of Geneva in New York City.”

Indeed, the Davidoff - S.T. Dupont relationship has more than a little history - the first S.T. Dupont boutique opened at the Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas in January 2008 by the father and son business partners Frank and Matt Arcela, owners of several Davidoff cigar shops in Las Vegas. That boutique - a stand-alone “kiosk” in a high traffic retail area inside the Palazzo which was located just across from one of their Davidoff shops - recently closed. The New York “store-in-store” takes a different approach, featuring the company’s entire product line and tapping Davidoff of Geneva’s existing base of luxury-orient consumers already familiar with Davidoff’s “Good Life” philosophy of luxury merchandise.

For Crevet, the move to raise S.T. Dupont’s domestic profile and bolster its U.S. sales was inspired by the brand’s strong success in Asia and Europe but what he feels is its under-tapped potential stateside. Last summer, the company appointed Lotus MJYX, LLC as its wholesale distributor for the United States. A Florida corporation with facilities and offices in Rhode Island, Lotus brought an established management team already well known in the industry with over 75 years experience in S.T. Dupont’s core product categories, led by Lotus president and c.e.o. Michael Reynolds. According to Crevet, the Lotus appointment was made with the intent of fully establishing the brand in the U.S. market. “We are totally committed to S.T. Dupont’s brand strategy” added Reynolds at the time.

Lotus quickly created a new after-sales service center crucial in bolstering consumer confidence in the brand following a backlog of service requests inherited from the previous U.S. distributor. Unfortunately, the fallout from a January 2008 fire at S.T. Dupont’s Faverges plant in France - which completely destroyed the polishing and plating workshops and brought production of writing instruments and lighters to a halt - slowed growth efforts even before the global economic recession fully tightened its grip on consumer spending. But with the facilities now completely rebuilt and production back to full capacity, S.T. Dupont has posted strong sales increases in France, Western Europe, and Hong Kong/China, illustrating the brand’s strong resistance to economic crisis in these areas. Another bright spot has been an increase in income from licensing of the S.T. Dupont brand due to the overall performance of the company’s licensees and the impact of new eye wear launched by the Aoyama group, further reinforcing the S.T. Dupont brand worldwide.

The opening of the New York boutique also served as an ideal opportunity to debut S.T. Dupont’s new Defi product line to the U.S. market, a series of high performance accessories utilizing innovative new materials that combine a luxury image with a competitive price. Included are writing instruments, leather business bags, and a lighter. As part of the overall S.T. Dupont line, these new items expand the potential market for the company’s luxury goods.

“When it comes to luxury smoking accessories, S.T. Dupont is undoubtedly the industry leader,” says Herklots. “They’ve really got something for everyone. Although Davidoff and S.T. Dupont have very different stories and histories, the philosophies of both are quite similar in their unwavering dedication to quality. Both companies embrace the ‘Good Life,’ and encourage us to celebrate life.”

SMOKESHOP - October, 2009