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20th Anniversary
Hermès Horloger - Laurent Dordet

Hermès Horloger Laurent Dordet

CEO*

When he joined Hermès in late 1995, Laurent Dordet never imagined he would still be there 25 years later. “The group has changed and grown so much in 25 years, and boasts a huge range of fascinating artisanal skills. I was fortunate enough to have been there during the group’s growth, occupying five different positions, all of them in the company of great teams inspired by the same passion.”

After a background in consulting and auditing, Dordet has filled just about every role at the renowned leatherwork specialist. He first joined the family company in the finance department. “I hadn’t yet turned 30. At that time, the firm was a twelfth of its current size. I think there were four finance executives. Today, there are over 40,” he recalls, before evoking his “deep dive”, when he left the support departments and moved to the heart of production. In the workshops in Lyon, he became deputy CEO of Hermès’ textile division. “I brought together textile creation, production and sales. It really was a full immersion into operations, and I stayed there for six years”.

Laurent Dordet

Laurent Dordey © Johann Sauty

Hermès continued to grow during that time. The firm acquired its own tanneries and needed someone to head up the operation. Laurent Dordet was offered the position. “I arrived in a tanning firm we’d just bought up. I was welcomed by the former owner, who spent an hour showing me round the facility before handing over the keys and leaving. I never saw him again.” It was an abrupt transition, but one from which he learned much. “We had to work on almost everything from scratch: integration, optimisation and transformation, as well as ethics, quality and sustainable development.” Building on the cross-cutting expertise he’d acquired, Laurent Dordet then moved to become CEO of the Leather Goods and Saddlery division, thereby discovering the brand’s “core reactor” – and diversifying the portfolio of items for a further four years.

He took up his most recent challenge in 2015: heading up Hermès Horlogerie. “Having familiarised myself with the whole gamut of Hermès’ business lines, I was delighted to embark on this adventure,” explains Dordet. His roadmap involved streamlining the division’s industrial organisation, redefining strategy and re-establishing Hermès watches as key players in the game. He moved the brand upmarket, expanding into haute horlogerie and thus carrying off three Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève awards – as well as continuing to produce the quartz, steel and women’s watches that make up the bedrock of sales. In a sure sign of maturity, Hermès has been an exhibitor alongside longstanding haute horlogerie brands at the SIHH exhibition in Geneva since 2018.

*On the occasion of GMT Magazine and WorldTempus' 20th anniversary, we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English, with a 10% discount if you use the following code: WT2021.

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