London/Paris: A Diverse Set of Business in London

By now, we have finished the first four days of our study tour and are on EuroStar heading towards our next destination – Paris. It has been an amazing four days; full of incredible learnings from all the company visits, including Christie’s, Burberry, UK’s Department of International Trade, Harrods, Business of Fashion, YNAP and Savoir Beds. There are a great mix of industry representations, giving us a better picture of the retail and luxury goods scene in London.

During our debrief session, a lot of us all agreed that Savoir is our favorite and most memorable visit. We were extremely lucky to have Alistair Hughes, Managing Director of Savoir Beds, to talk to us about the company’s history and strategy. Furthermore, the site visit to the production lines was a sight to see considering these luxurious beds costed £15,000. Alistair has a very entrepreneurial mindset and was bold enough to take on a company with minimal sales and track record at the time. We can easily tell how passionate he is for the business and how his grand vision is to expand the company’s footprint. The combination of quality, provenance, engagement and exclusivity makes Savoir Beds one of the world’s most luxurious mattress brands. It’s the bespoke aspect, the craftsmanship culture and the made to order model that really gives the brand the unique proposition. We admire Alistair’s ambition and focus that will continue the spirit of Savoy hotel and the heritage of legacy.

In terms of one of the most memorable activities, there’s no doubt that the afternoon tea at London’s iconic Savoy Hotel was the highlight of the trip. We sat in the center of the Thames Foyer next to the pianist who was beautifully playing classical music. We were asked to choose tea from an extensive menu and were served with finger sandwiches, homemade scones with clotted cream and jam and a mouth-watering selection of seasonal cakes. We talked about life, school and how we are all in love with London. It was a very elegant and unforgettable afternoon. 

We are on the way to Paris for the last one and a half days of the study tour. We are scheduled to visit Christofle, Dior and Van Cleef to end our study tour on a high note. I am very excited to be in Paris despite the fact that yellow vest strike seems to be a little uncontrollable. I hope that the group would be able to get around the city safe and still be able to see the beauty of Paris.

Margaret Hung (CBS ’19) is an MBA student at Columbia Business School

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