/

S.T. Dupont logs doubled sales on revamped lineup

by Minoru Matsutani

Staff Writer

French hand-made luxury goods maker S.T. Dupont’s president said Thursday that sales in Japan have doubled over the past three years after the company reduced its product lineup to mainly pens and lighters.

The company’s business here turned a profit in 2011 and has kept increasing ever since. Japan is one of the most important markets because Japanese customers value craftsmanship, Alain Crevet, Dupont’s president, said.

“S.T. Dupont is all about French craftsmanship. A simple lighter takes 60 hours to make,” Crevet said. “The design is slick, simple and understated (and those features) match Japanese taste.”

The craftsmanship earned S.T. Dupont the label of Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant, or EPV for short, and Living Heritage Company in English, conferred by the French authorities in November last year.

Crevet visited Japan to attend a reception at the French Embassy in Tokyo on Wednesday night in which S.T. Dupont introduced the Louis XIII Fleur de Parme lighter, designed by Princess Tania de Bourbon Parme, a descendent of King Louis XIII. The French princess as well as Princess Hisako, the widow of Prince Takamado, were present for the event.

Crevet, who built his career in consumer goods marketing at Procter & Gamble and LVMH, joined S.T. Dupont in 2006, when the French luxury brand was losing money globally and Japan was one of its biggest money losers.

He decided to focus on what S.T. Dupont was known for: pens and lighters.

Crevet also shifted Dupont’s regional focus to Japan, Hong Kong and China, the three regions where marketing research revealed the company’s brand awareness was high.

Japan accounted for less than 5 percent of S.T. Dupont’s sales six years ago, but the percentage soared to over 10 percent now.