Axel Dumas

Dumas studied at Paris-Sorbonne University and the Paris Institute of Political Studies, and later attended Harvard Business School. He began his career as an investment banker for BNP Paribas before joining Hermès as an auditor in 2003. In February 2014, Dumas was named as CEO of the group, returning it to familial leadership, after Patrick Thomas’ tenure as the only CEO that was not a Dumas-Hermès family member.

Training:

Dumas studied Philosophy at Paris-Sorbonne University, where he gained his bachelors degree, before continuing to a master in Law from the Paris Institute of Political Studies. He has also attended an executive program at the Harvard Business School.

Career:

Dumas began his career as an investment banker for BNP Paribas, a French international banking group, in 1995. He worked there for eight years, being posted to Beijing, Paris, and New York during his tenure.

After this, he joined Hermès as an auditor in 2003, where he would remain for the rest of his career.  Hermès, a French luxury design house established in 1837, notably, remains family-owned and Dumas has a familial connection.

During this period his position was Director of Fine Jewelry and Head of leather and Saddlery, and the company was being eyed-up for a takeover by rival luxury goods chain, LVMH. Dumas would see this off, and would become CEO of Jewelry in 2006, and CEO of leather goods in 2008. By February 2014, Dumas was named as CEO of the group.

When Dumas joined, the company’s revenue was $5.2 billion, and by 2021 it had almost doubled to $10.2 billion. Shares, which now trade at around $1,400, have quintupled in value. In part due to this success, and in part due to its retention strategy, the company, under Dumas’ direction, decided to pay a one-time year-end bonus of €4,000 to each of its 19,700 employees.

Dumas is keen to ensure most workers become shareholders, and has ensured they get strong raises and cost-of-living bonuses recently, to share in the company’s success. It seems to be paying off, with Universum Global rankings naming the company as the second most attractive employer for French students in 2022, and among the top five for executives.

 

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Anecdotes

Dumas is very instinctual. When he was in charge of retail operations for Hermès in France, his task was to visit all company stores. He has stated that his goal was never to get the address, and instead he would just go to the center of the town and follow his instincts. He has said, “if we have the right location, I’ll be able to find it by feeling.”

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