“Taking over the family business was an inevitable progression for me, however it did come much sooner than I thought. I was 29 when I took over the reins from my mother following the death of my father a few years before. It was challenging at first, however in quick time I really started to grasp the core values and inner workings of the LK Boutique business. From there the business has flourished into what it is today, prompting the creation of our parent company Emerald Group Investments (EGI). EGI now owns and operates the LK Boutique luxury watch and jewelry business, along with the newly acquired Bang & Olufsen ANZ and MO Luxury, a Specialist Recruitment & Consulting firm. What started as a boutique family business has grown into a much larger organization. With over 80 staff across all its divisions, I have relished both the highs and lows of leading the business over the years, and the good fortune that comes from plenty of hard work and tough decisions along the way.” – James Kennedy, CEO LK Boutique
It seems that, well at least in the eyes of international luxury brands, Australia is continuing to evolve as a prime destination for luxury & upscale retail. James Kennedy is a man on a mission to build luxury brands that resonate with modern Australians on a massive scale. We caught up with the ambitious businessman for a little watch talk and of course his vision for LK Boutique.
Why have you chosen the brands you have to be a part of the LK Family?
Our focus has always been on working closely with the worlds very best in luxury. For us, it comes down to core brand values like innovation, design and production. Strong marketing and brand awareness plays an important part too. When it comes to luxury goods, the brand is intrinsically related to the quality of the product. Because of our association with these brands and our dedication to creating a quality luxury service experience from start to finish, LK Boutique has become synonymous with true luxury.
Could you tell us a little about your Bang & Olufsen’s Australasian operations acquisition?
The acquisition of Bang & Olufsen ANZ, from the Danish parent company, consisted of 9 retail stores in Australia, and 1 in New Zealand, along with 39 Staff including the Australian management team. With the acquisition of the business we also executed a Master Dealer Agreement allowing us to continue as the sole operator and distributor of Bang & Olufsen in Australia and New Zealand. The B&O brand, like many we represent has a long-standing legacy centered on outstanding design and innovation in the luxury marketplace. B&O brings great customer synergies to our current business, allowing us to increase not only our product range but our customers as well. B&O is an aspirational brand and it has a lot of opportunity in Australia, and our primary goal in reinvigorating the brand is to bring B&O back into the market place and position it once more as a market leader in Audio Visual quality and design.
When and how did your association with watches begin? What is it that still excites you about watches?
I received my first Rolex watch, a gift from my parents, when I was 15 years old. It was a special gift, which remains part of my personal watch collection today. Like they say about your American express card I say the same about a watch, never leave home without it. I still get excited when new collections are released because I’m constantly surprised by the innovation that continues as well as progress in beautiful design. Sometimes I think that the best timepieces can’t get much better, but in fact they do; and I suspect they will continue to.
What are the benefits of being a client at LK Boutique?
At LK Boutique we have been offering world-class brands and world-class customer service for over 35 years. We are always looking for new ways to enhance the offering to our clients and provide a market leading experience, which our clients will always remember. We pride ourselves on housing the best range of the very-best brands year-round, however for us it’s about more than just product. Customer service is key, we focus on building relationships both with our loyal and dedicated staff as well as with our valued clients. Our business is built on relationships and ensuring longevity with each and every customer we serve each day.
Where do you see the future of the Swiss Watch Industry in Australia?
Whilst the global Swiss Watch market has been through a period of consolidation, Australia continues to benefit from the strong tourist market. Especially Australia continues to be one of the preferred destinations for the Asian luxe buyer; coupled with a weaker AUD and global uncertainty, Australia is proving to be a major market for the watch industry. Domestically, the market also remains positive with the growth of wealth, and the increase of luxury brands making their way into Australia.
If you could pick a watch brand or model that epitomizes the culture or style of LK Boutique what would it be?
We are in the fortunate position of representing many of the world’s most prestigious products and brands, such as Patek Philippe, Dunhill, IWC, Cartier and Rolex. In their own way, all of our brands epitomize our culture and style, collectively. Having said that, and continuing the tradition and business my parents started over 35 years ago it is probably the most exciting aspect.