My fabulous adventure started at the end of 2000 when, through a little advert in the French Newspaper “Le Figaro”, an exciting opportunity to open the first CT shop outside the UK was proposed.
After a wonderful telephone interview with the recruiter, the time had come to meet one of the management. His name? Monsieur Mark Higgins.
First a rendez-vous in Paris and immediately I felt that there was good connection between myself and Mark. He felt that I was ready to face this incredible challenge after my 11 years with Disney.
Next step was to meet the King of the Kings, Monsieur Nick Wheeler and his charismatic associate Monsieur Peter Higgins.
They could see my desire to be the Ambassador of the Brand as I could not think of anything else two weeks before my first day. After spending 4 weeks training in Bicester (in the middle of nowhere) in January 2001 (Bicester opened in August 2000). I was so excited and could not wait to open my shop.
Charles Tyrwhitt Paris opened on the 9th of February 2001. Together with Michaela and Jean-Michel who joined me from Disney and who are still with me after nearly 18 years.
Trade was not as successful as we hoped as we were facing a “ghost shopping village”. There were no tourists, no big popular brands and no curiosity from the French Customers.
Welcome to France!
It was tough; we were losing money for the first 6 years. Each year at the Retail Conference, Peter would ask me “When are you making Money François?” “We will Peter, we will” I just knew that the people would come to love us and, with my shopkeeper mind, if the Customers’ didn’t come to me then I would go to the customer.
Suddenly sales started to pick up. We developed the business by meeting potential clients, in the break rooms of banks in Paris and in some big companies such as Air France, Honda etc.
I knew we had potential as we had the Best Shirt at the Best Value. I attended some conferences of The Chairman’s Association and over time, developed a strong and loyal customer base.
I have enjoyed a really rich working experience by being the Ambassador of the Brand; I introduced France’s ex-Prime Minister Mr Cazeneuve to CT. He just loved us and was exclusively dressed by us during his premiership.
Nearly after 18 years my passion for my role and the product is still as strong as it was from my first day. So many shirts have been sold since this time and we have enjoyed amazing growth of +400%.
This passion and energy continues to be fuelled by our founder Nick who gave to me his trust and enough time to prove that Charles Tyrwhitt Paris is a diamond ready to grow and shine forever in France!!!