LONDON — British luxury stationers and leather goods company Smythson on Tuesday named Paddy Byng as its chief executive officer.
Byng, 40, previously was global marketing director for the Richemont-owned brand Dunhill.
Smythson said in a brief statement Tuesday that Byng would begin in December. “We are delighted Paddy is joining Smythson as ceo. His extensive luxury goods experience will be invaluable in continuing to drive the growth of the Smythson brand,” said Sion Kearsey, a director of Smythson.
Byng will report to the company’s board. In the spring, Smythson was acquired for some $28 million by a group of private investors, including Kearsey and Mark Esiri, both of whom are on the board. Byng replaces Esiri, who was acting ceo.
“We all think Smythson is a fabulous brand with tremendous international potential,” said Byng in an interview, adding that his work at Dunhill will serve him well. “Leather is a big growth driver at Dunhill and Dunhill is also very much a gifting business. Both of these are big categories at Smythson.”
Smythson was founded in 1887 by Frank Smythson and rapidly built a reputation as stationers to international royalty and the celebrity set. It supplied Grace Kelly’s wedding diary, the condolence book for the U.S. Embassy in London after President Kennedy’s death and Princess Diana’s stationery. Today, it counts Gwyneth Paltrow, Stella McCartney, Tom Ford and Tom Hanks among its clients.
It is famous for the hand-painted borders on its note cards, individually watermarked paper, unique typefaces developed over decades and elegant leather-bound diaries.
Two years ago, the company introduced leather handbags, which are now among its fastest-growing product categories. The company is intent on growing the business, especially in the U.S. Smythson, which already has one store in New York and six in London, is currently looking for new store locations in New York and Los Angeles and is mulling opening in Florida, Texas and Palm Springs, Calif.
Before joining Dunhill in November 2003, Byng was senior vice president of global marketing and advertising at Polo Ralph Lauren. Byng is the second top manager to announce his exit from Dunhill in the past six months. Dunhill’s ceo, Simon Critchell, will step down in the spring to pursue personal projects.