10.30am on a lovely sunny morning in London day before yesterday in town on business, I found myself in an equally lovely department with charming customer service team looking at lingerie. Perfume wafted from between the aisles. The carpet was fluffy and all was well in this world.
Only the best from Italy from France. It was for a moment a short illusionary break from the normal, as I picked up a little satin and lace thing, just a little bit of nothing really for just under £1.000. Back it went.
Leaving said boudoir behind and popping into the loo, I bumped into a very busy woman leaving as I entered a marble world .
A man stood drying his hands. He looked at me and realising I was in the men’s (the urinals were a clue) I apologised and turned and walked out.
Something didn’t stack up. 1 plus 1 was not 2.
EQ, emotional intelligence, that 6th sense which we all have, is a very strong sense if you listen. Mine is very well honed after 15 years working hard in the Middle East in my own PR communications company, set up in 2002 in the Reuters Building under Sheikh Mohammed’s dictate, to allow 100 percent foreign owned businesses. (I was business 180 or something of that order.)
Something had happened in the marble kingdom.
Sex worker, drug deal, date maker, post girl. Something that shouldn’t have been happening. I waited outside the said loo and as the man can out and I asked him what did he think he was doing with the lady, (nosy parker that I am or frustrated Clousseau) or simply an interested professional from the world of the art of glamour and style that I am in part.
This was no art installation however just I believed a sordid moment in the temple of retail wonderment: a world of luxury no, superlative luxury, the best luxury.
Amnesia came over him – “no no no lady in toilet” this man with ropey English spluttered: he stared at me or rather his eyes were popping out of his head and moving about his eye sockets at break neck speed. Guilty as sin I perceived.
Why the hell I thought, was a male toilet in such a position? Where was the store undercover super duper agents. Signage why didn’t I see it – pretty discrete?
I eventually, after a saga got sense from the door man a consummate professional of many many years in the job. Finally another professional heading security called me and kept me posted as he started investigating.
A wandering Director, happening to pass whilst I was recounting my experience in the store to the said doorman, made me wait 9 minutes on a bench outside the store while he talked, very important business matters obviously, on his most important phone held to his most important ear. ” Don’t get upset Madame” was his opening shot after I recounted the experience.
I told him I was angry not upset. There is a difference.
I asked him to call the MD. He tried a nifty deflection to corporate pr manager. I I wouldn’t budge on my request. But sadly he was unavailable.
Protecting your reputation is I think pretty critical. I wanted to help them.
This store needs to do that. It’s owners would demand it as that’s why they bought it. It’s the season of the Arabs arriving in town and certainly luxury London retailers, hoteliers, restaurateurs need their 💰
I lived and worked with the needs of multinationals, Governments, the global best in my own company business in the Gulf from 1998 to 2010. Now that was a challenge, under sharia law – cruel and non discrimitary and barbaric and inhumane.
I was do disgusted and incensed, I asked for a call from the MD to discuss. He’ll call, his front line team promised.
Still as of today today he hasn’t bothered. Not like the owner Mr Beng of Singapore, who owns The Chelsea Harbour Hotel and many many more brands and hotel and assets globally. What a difference in response and attitude. I’m still working to help him where I can. His father started the business from just about zero, he has conquered the luxury world.
Thing is… I don’t break promises.
This British best in class MD was too busy being busy in Berlin or Brussels or Brighton to care enough to be bothered enough to find out what was what personally, to give me a buzz?
On the train later that night after a busy day meeting Arabic editors, clients, senior colleagues from the Gulf states, and a friend, I was reading The Standard and in the who’s doing what pages, the said MD was pictured glass in hand with another. Enjoying.
Time enough for social networking parties with others as the PR agency the host, wined and dined actual and prospective clients on a balmy summer evening in the capital it seems.
Get it right super luxury london – the basics at least.
If I can meet a ruler in the Emirates as I’m trusted with their reputations and business without an appointment on matters of importance and they own the banks or the boulevards, I find it extraordinary in London that salaried seniors can’t work out what’s critical and what’s not. It’s arrogant, it’s outdated and totally un customer friendly.
I’m meeting, in the land of milk and honey, dates and black treacle the owners hopefully in a few months as it happens of this store.
I’m sure she would be most interested to hear my little tale of how one of the best of the best brands, its supreme leader on the ground manages its customers and potential crisis of its reputation and profits.
It would have taken a few minutes to care enough, to assimilate the potential damage to the brand, to the profits, to call me up. Now as a communications professional I have this incident, this story which could halm.
Moreover i’m left with a very unpleasant feeling about the whole affair – I’ll need to reflect on my next move I feel as behind closed doors, something’s got to change.
Get your act together, get your priorities right and frankly just be grateful I have ethics and at this moment have stopped to reflect rather than get it out as a story to hit the deadlines for The Standard, Al Hayat and all others via Reuters. Some of my media colleagues love stories like this
Open those closed doors: closed ears and eyes that perhaps don’t see beyond the illusion of lingerie .
Your closed off emotional appreciation won’t get you far post Brexit luxury London.
I’m still available to be invited in to the corridors of luxury power for a personal meeting. Send a ticket or send a car to pick me up. Call first to arrange as we are all busy though.