Nicolas Krafft, the former managing director of Christofle Inc., believes the key to its continued success is its relationship with customers and continual evolution as a lifestyle brand.
Nicolas Krafft has been with the company for more than two decades, serving in Europe, the United States, South East Asia, and China. Christofle, founded in 1830, is primarily known for its silver and tableware; however, the brand’s essence is about lifestyle, or how to use the projects to enjoy an elegant life, Krafft says.
“It’s about what you will like, how it can be presented, and how to have the best use,” he said. While working with artists has always been part of its success, Christofle is starting to partner with designers more often to encourage them to think about working with Christofle on bespoke products. The company likes to be leaders, rather than followers, in creating luxury products, Krafft says.
Nicolas Krafft believes in building relationships
Christofle also works hard to continue building relationships with its customers through events, social media, and inviting them to see upcoming products as they are being developed and made. “Our customers are high-net-worth individuals, traveled, influential, and may have yachts and multiple houses to furnish,” Krafft says.
Nicolas Krafft says the company is determined to grow the brand without compromising its luxury feel by entering a lower-price market. “Our items have a value, and we price them at that value,” he said in a recent interview. However, the jewelry line, which is reasonably priced, provides a way for people to enter the brand. Often, the customer’s daughters will receive a piece of silver jewelry as a gift or buy a piece, then choose the company’s tableware, flatware, and home decor for their own homes later.
Nicolas Krafft brings flash to luxury
The charismatic, elegantly dressed Krafft is himself an aficionado of the finer things in life, just as the brand’s vision promotes. He has a gourmet background and is practiced at the art of sabrage, or popping open a champagne bottle with a sword. Nicolas Krafft picked up the skill as a university student in France from one of his friends’ father. One legend is that French cavalry during Napoleon’s time rode through the towns of Champagne, where locals handed them champagne. The soldiers began sabrage as a way to open the bottles while continuing their ride.
“If you do it properly, with a lot of panache, it’s impressive, he said, noting that trying it without training can be quite dangerous. The pressure inside a champagne bottle is three times that of a tire and can explode in the face of someone next to you if you’re not careful, he says. Nicolas Krafft has his own collection of sabers, teaches classes in proper sabrage techniques, and provides demonstrations for customers at some Christofle events.
Nicolas Krafft not only can open bottles with a sword but also with a credit card. He also is a connoisseur of champagne, wine, and spirits.
Nicolas Krafft earned a master’s degree in economics at the Paris Pantheon-Sorbonne University. After that, he worked for Prisunic Builders Pvt, becoming a store manager. Five years later, he obtained a job as operations manager at Aelia Group. He quickly became general manager there. In that position, he first began learning about alcoholic beverages, gourmet foods, and tobacco and that knowledge helped further prepare him for his future at Christofle.
Christofle hired him in 2002, where he first worked as managing director of the Asia-Pacific region. His strong work ethic, quick wit, and humble spirit also have helped him advance through the executive ranks. In 2012 he became CEO of the Americas. In that position, he increased sales at the company’s standalone luxury boutiques, which showcases the company’s limited edition and decorative works. He also improved corporate hospitality efforts and helped the company maximize sales through its wholesale and e-commerce divisions. From there, he moved back to France, where he oversaw the brand’s efforts in the luxury markets in France and the United Kingdom. From that position, he was promoted to managing director last year.