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New CEO Takes Reins at Christopher Kane

Nikolas Talonpoika succeeds Sarah Crook, becoming Christopher Kane’s third chief executive in two years.
Christopher Kane's London flagship | Source: Courtesey
By
  • Tamara Abraham

LONDON, United Kingdom — Nikolas Talonpoika has been appointed chief executive officer of Christopher Kane, succeeding Sarah Crook, who is leaving the Kering-owned brand after two years.

Talonpoika, who will commence his new role on October 12, was previously strategic marketing and media director of Kering, and will report to Jean-François Palus, Kering’s group managing director.

According to a statement from Kering, Talonpoika’s mission will be to accelerate Christopher Kane’s international expansion while working with founders Christopher and Tammy Kane on strengthening its distinctive identity.

Talonpoika will become Christopher Kane’s third chief executive officer in two years. “I think this gives you a good idea of how difficult it is to grow a smaller fashion brand,” observes Luca Solca, head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas. “I think Christopher Kane is potentially promising but realising that potential is very difficult indeed.”

Indeed, the current climate is particularly challenging. In 2015, the global market for personal luxury goods grew to €253 billion (about $284 billion), up only 1 percent on the previous year in real growth terms, according to a report by Bain & Company, a global consulting firm.

I think this gives you a good idea of how difficult it is to grow a smaller fashion brand.

“With smaller ‘growth brands’ it's a real challenge to try and execute some of the international aspirations in a market that is depressed like this,” says Nick Pope, fashion and luxury lead for Deloitte in the UK. “I'm sure that [Talonpoika] is a very capable executive and I'm sure that he is going to be successful, it's just the reality is the luxury market at the moment is one of slower growth than we have been accustomed to over the past five to 10 years, so it is quite difficult.”

During her time as chief executive officer of Christopher Kane, Crook oversaw the opening of the brand’s first flagship store in London, an e-commerce presence, international expansion and diversification into new product categories.

“Kering is grateful to Sarah Crook for her achievements,” the company’s statement read.

Talonpoika, who has been with the Kering group for eight years, was previously media director for the Gucci Group. He has also held positions at WPP and Publicis, working with brands including Richemont, L'Oréal and Nespresso.

Talonpoika's appointment and Crook's exit follows a series of executive reshuffles at luxury brands including Loewe, Tiffany & Co., Hugo Boss, Buscemi and Burberry.

“It’s an industry that of course, is always in flux and people moving from one group to another,” Pope says. “Obviously with the changes afoot at Burberry, you sense that this is a period of change for the industry, not just within the external demand environment … but there is also a period of change around the executives. So it could be a positive move for [Christopher Kane]. I wouldn't personally class it as something that would be painted as a crisis.”

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