Maison Lejaby chief executive Alain Prost talks about his entrepreneurial ambitions, his daring plan to re-position the company for the luxury market and his decision to launch two new brands.

Maison Lejaby chief executive Alain Prost talks about his entrepreneurial ambitions, his daring plan to re-position the company for the luxury market and his decision to launch two new brands.

This is by no means the first time that Alain Prost has played the boss, but it is – as the new Maison Lejaby chief executive is quick to point out – the first time he can describe himself as a true entrepreneur.

"There was a personal and professional motivation,” Prost says, describing his reason for taking over beleaguered company Lejaby SAS.

The business went into administration towards the end of last year. In January 2012, Prost’s consortium outbid the single other aspirant to the reins and was handed the business by the Court of Lyon.

The move marked the beginning of a new stage in life for Prost, whose previous positions included being General Manager of L’Oreal, General Manager of Group Chantelle and Chief Executive Officer of La Perla.

"What pleased me at L’Oreal was always the sense of being the boss of my own company,” Prost reveals. “I left L’oreal because it was too big a job and I lost - a little - this sense of entrepreneurship."

Prost joined Groupe Chantelle, a family run company with a turnover of around 400 million euros, because he felt the business possessed this elusive entrepreneurial spirit. His consequent move to La Perla occurred at a point of vital development for the brand - it was rapidly becoming apparent that Prost was a man who needed a challenge.

"At the end, I said, ‘well, why don’t I become an entrepreneur myself?’” muses Prost. “It was something that had been growing in my body year after year, and it was also quite logical for my professional career. That is why I chose to take over Lejaby.”

One of Prost’s first actions has been the re-naming of the company to Maison Lejaby. The step reflects his desire to return the business to its former glory days, when it created products for the luxury market.

"The brand has gone down from a high end to a high medium position in the market,” he explains. “We have to go back to where Lejaby was before.

"It was named Maison Lejaby because it is the smell of couture. Le Maison is the smell of couture.”

Maison Lejaby currently contains two brands: Lejaby and Rasurel. However, Prost is keen to launch two more over the coming year.

The first of these is a new haute couture lingerie and beachwear brand, which has been given the working title Lejaby Couture, and is set to launch before the end of 2012.

The step comes as part of the company’s bid to re-position itself toward the luxury end of the market.

Prost says: “It will be the first brand of French lingerie haute couture. It is a luxury brand of corsetry and beachwear.

"We know to do things that nobody else does. We want to show our customers and our consumers that we can do something special, so that is the reason why we want to launch Lejaby Couture.”

The couture products, which could potentially be personalised for the individual consumer, will all be designed and manufactured in France, near Lyon. This will help distinguish the lingerie and beachwear from the rest of Maison Lejaby’s product offering, which is currently being manufactured in Tunisia.

Those who heard about the furore that surrounded Prost’s closure of the brand’s existing French production plant, earlier this year, may not have known that 93 percent of Lejaby manufacturing was already taking place offshore in 2011.

In SS13, Maison Lejaby is set to re-launch its Elixir lingerie brand, which targets the fuller figure market. The new label will form the final corner of the Maison Lejaby Group’s brand offering.

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