Between jetting off to Paris on fashion buying trips and organising bespoke champagne and canape parties at the House of Dior in Bond Street, London, it’s not hard to imagine that Boutique Director Christopher Watney is the source of equal parts envy and admiration in the cutting edge world of the fashion industry.
Watney has recently been named the International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS) Fashion Ambassador for the higher education institute’s Bachelor of Business Management (Fashion and Global Brand Management) degree.
As Boutique Director of the House of Dior, New Bond Street, London, UK, Watney is at the pinnacle of a career in luxury retail.
“Twenty years ago everyone was saying that the future was in banking and if you wanted a great career then banking was the sector to be in, but a lot has changed in 20 years,” Watney said.
“For me, luxury retail is an incredible industry. It’s not easy and one has to work hard, however it’s so very satisfying and rewarding. To be successful in luxury retail, you need a mixture of IQ and EQ, plenty of common sense and charisma, mix this with passion, positivity and hard work and you have a chance of being very successful.”
The House of Dior encompasses four floors and all universes (product categories) under one roof, from Women’s Ready to Wear to BabyDior, Maision Dior (Homeware), Leathergoods and Accessories, Fine Jewellery and Timepieces, Menswear and Perfume Christian Dior.
“We also have several VIP private rooms and a private dining room. My role is to manage the House of Dior as my own business, I’m accountable for aspects within this business. I oversee each of the categories (through a team of department managers, assistant managers, supervisors) to ensure they achieve the financial targets and other KPIs I agreed to at the start of the year,” Watney explained. “I manage, support and mentor these managers to develop them and ensure they are able to progress within the business. Having a strong team, with each person clear on their role, with a sense of direction and visibility of their part in my succession plan is a key part of the success of my business.”
“I also do the buying for most of the product categories in the boutique so make frequent trips to Paris for this. Being in charge of the Open to Buy (OTB) for your own business is a wonderfully powerful tool; you truly have no excuse if the pieces you selected didn’t sell and it really encourages on to focus your team hard on selling everything you bought.”
As the figurehead of the House of Dior, Watney spends a large amount of time entertaining clients both in the boutique and outside of it.
“I’m fortunate to attend every Dior Fashion Show with clients, then the following day I take them to the Showroom in Paris to ‘re-see’ the collection. At this point we allow them to place orders from the show collection,” Watney said.
Events management also plays a role at the House of Dior Boutique, with a team of event planners helping Watney manage in-store events throughout the year.
“An example of this is where, this month, I will host a Summer 2019 Collection Trunk Show where customers are invited to come to a cocktail party at the boutique, enjoy a glass of champagne and canapes while watching models walk wearing the newest collection. After this we have two of the top London DJs creating a party-like atmosphere in the boutique.”
Watney takes his role as ICMS Fashion Ambassador seriously, and praised the Northern Beaches, NSW, Sydney college for creating an educational path for students wanting to make an impact in national and global fashion and branding.
“It’s wonderful to see Fashion and Global Brand Management getting the recognition of a degree. What I like about this particular degree is that it blends business and high-end fashion into one degree. It’s the perfect degree for the future industry leaders to undertake.”
For more information on the ICMS Bachelor of Business Management (Fashion and Global Brand Management), click here: https://www.icms.edu.au/course/bachelor-business-management-fashion-and-global-brand-management
For more information on House of Dior, click here: https://www.dior.com