I speak to Mr Franck Mesnel who went from rugby legend to founder of a luxury sports brand.
Mr Franck Mesnel is famous for his rugby skills, in fact, he is legendary for his skills in the sport. He is also famous for making pink popular amongst manly men too.
Apart from his skills on the field, he is well-known as the founder of French luxury sports brand, Eden Park. This brand is synonymous with being the choice of formal wear amongst rugby unions in England, Wales, Ireland, Italy, and France.
They have officially launched their South-east Asian flagship counter in the style and sports hub in Singapore in the fourth quarter of 2016. So far, the brand is represented in about 40 countries and has a whopping 536 sales outlets. In Asia alone, they have five in-store counters in Taiwan, four in China, and three in the Philippines.
I speak with Mr Mesnel to find out his thoughts on management, leadership, and the business environment.
Today’s Manager (TM): There is a constant debate that management and leadership are different. What are your thoughts?
Mr Franck Mesnel (FM): My take is that management is on a corporate level whereas leadership is personal. Eden Park epitomises our love for French flair. And what I offer to Eden Park, as one of the many leaders, is the spirit of rugby. We have a unique culture where every team member plays well and plays together.
TM: What is your management or leadership style like?
FM: What I learn from rugby is invaluable. We have to trust our team players. Likewise, at Eden Park, we work with the best and trust that they will do their best. As a co-founder, Eden Park is very much a part of me. At work, I am very hands on in the development of the brand as I derive fulfilment in being involved. Take for example, the night before the opening of our central square outlet in Philippines, I was on the floor with our team to ensure that decorations resonate with the brand. I personally ensure that the brand’s quality and personality stay consistent.
TM: What strengths should an effective leader have?
FM: An effective leader engages with the team and the community. As leaders, we have to lead by example. I am very pleased that through our Les Papillons du Ciel programme, Eden Park is able to benefit the community through education. We build schools so that children are provided with an education and an opportunity to learn and bond through rugby.
TM: How do you stay motivated?
FM: Having a goal motivates me. More importantly, being able to help and benefit the less fortunate through education give me a deep sense of purpose and fulfilment. This sense of purpose and fulfilment is one of our common goals at Eden Park.
Our humanitarian project in education creates education opportunities for the underprivileged communities in Madagascar and provides a way for them to discover the sport of rugby.
TM: How do you manage and motivate your team?
FM: We have recently launched a new Eden Park retail outlet in Singapore’s Takashimaya Department Store. With 54 Eden Park stores and over 500 retail points spanning across every continent, we engage the best people in each region to achieve the best results.
The team is motivated by the same values. We have fun at work just like we had fun playing for the Racing Cup De France (RCF). We are able to work and play together as a team.
TM: What is your biggest personal achievement(s) to date?
FM: Eden Park has grown to become a global brand with over 500 retail points across all continents. We are the formal wear atelier of five successful rugby teams—England, France, Ireland, Italy, and Wales.
Our brand carries our love for French flair and rugby, not just for men, but also women and children. Through our CSR efforts, we are able to construct schools for underprivileged communities and allow children to discover the sport of rugby.
In a nutshell, the growth and development of Eden Park, and how the growth of the brand allows us to continue to benefit children through our Les Papillons du Ciel programme are some of my greatest achievements.
TM: What motivated you to set up Eden Park? Tell us more about it.
FM: I was part of the backline team when I was playing for Racing Club de France (RCF). Together, we won the Five Nations games four times. Then we were known as “Le Showbiz” for our high-profile stunts such as taking the field in fancy dress and drinking champagne at half-time.
I won the title of the French Top 14 in 1990 and had 56 caps for France from 1986 to 1995, scoring eight tries and three drop goals.
In 1987, we were in the media spotlight when we played the French Championship final in Paris with a pink bow tie around our necks. The stunt launched the idea of establishing Eden Park, with the pink bow tie motif as an icon to the brand.
TM: What are the differences and similarities that you have noticed about the business environment when you started Eden Park versus how it is today?
FM: Eden Park celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The global market is now more diversified. Today, competition is stiff and the world has become more connected through the Internet. By embracing the change, we are able to communicate the brand across different cultures, religions, race, social origin, and political direction.
TM: As the founder of Eden Park, why do you think it is important for you to continue to be heavily involved in its branding?
FM: While playing for the Racing Club de France (RCF), my team-mates and I used to surprise the public and our opponents by pulling off style stunts at rugby matches. Eden Park was born from a fun and quirky paradox and it is important as a founder to ensure that the personality that created the brand is evident in everything we do.
An architect by training, my strength has always been in design. I take pride in managing every aspect of how our brand is portrayed: From our collections, down to the storefront, every detail must be what Eden Park stands for. Hence, I handle the branding aspects of Eden Park myself so that the brand personality remains true.
TM: Why are you willing to take risks in business?
FM: There are many similarities in business and rugby. We formulate a game plan, take risks, and aim for the goals. At Eden Park, we challenge ourselves to better our quality. At the same time, we aim to increase our footprint and hope to educate the underprivileged and benefit the communities through our “College and Rugby” and “Les Papillons du Ciel” programmes.
TM: What are your aspirations for Eden Park?
FM: We hope that through fashion, rugby, and education, we can build a better future, not just for ourselves, but also for our beneficiaries and their communities.
PHOTOS: EDEN PARK
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