PARIS — The Comité Colbert, the French luxury goods association, has opened its membership to companies outside France in a bid to strengthen its bargaining position within the European Union, its president Elisabeth Ponsolle des Portes said Thursday.
At its general assembly this week, the Comité co-opted German firms Leica and Montblanc, in addition to Hungarian porcelain maker Herend and Czech glassware firm Moser. It plans to welcome up to 10 members from countries without enough critical mass to have their own industry body.
The meeting also included officials from Italy’s Fondazione Altagamma, the U.K.’s Walpole British Luxury and Spain’s newly created Circulo Español del Lujo Fortuny, in addition to a dozen company presidents and chief executive officers from other European countries including Germany, Belgium and Denmark.
The national associations, grouped under the European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance (ECCIA), adopted a joint action plan for the European luxury industry that made six recommendations targeting both the internal market and third countries.
These are aimed at boosting trade, defending the rules applying to selective distribution, gaining access to overseas markets and protecting intellectual property rights in China, said Ponsolle des Portes.
The European Union accounts for 68 percent of the world export market for high-end goods, with the market share rising to 75 percent when including Switzerland, she noted, quoting a recent study by the Paris School of Economics.
In France, aggregate sales for Comité Colbert member houses increased fivefold between 1995 and 2010 to 26 billion euros, or $34.5 billion. Dollar rates are calculated at average exchange rates for the period in question.