With lockdowns and the cessation of travel, the pandemic was, for many of us, a time to slow down. For Montblanc CEO Nicolas Baretzki. however, it was the perfect opportunity to speed up. “Covid was an accelerator,” says the head of the German-headquartered luxury brand. “It helped us to focus on what is important and sped up plans that were already underway for the transformation and the elevation of the maison. We wanted to go more direct to consumer, and the pandemic accelerated this drastically as well. Our e-commerce business, for example, exploded and continues to thrive because people have gotten used to buying online.”
Not that all this bustling activity has left Baretzki any worse for wear. He radiates good cheer and energy during his interview with The Peak at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he had earlier conducted a town hall with staff and other stakeholders. Singapore was the fourth city he was visiting in eight days. “I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped,” says the CEO with a smile.
Even at the height of the pandemic, there were bright spots despite the tough retail environment. Sales of the brand’s writing instruments were “booming” and continue to do so, says Baretzki. He muses, “It’s difficult for me to explain why exactly. Maybe it’s because people were at home and writing inspired by them? However, one thing is for sure — this is a core category of Montblanc, so I think, when times are challenging, people go back to what they know, and it reassures them.”