George Carpentier originated form Paris but moved to London at an early age. He was a well-known character in the international fashion circles of the eighties. He started making saddle and bridle leather belts and accessories in Ubrique close to where his grandfather owned an orange farm plantation in the North of Cadiz.
He managed at the time to build quite a successful little business, with very little capital except for some odd $20.000 which were left over from his grandfathers inheritance and after sort of completing his education at Cambridge University where he read History at one of the main colleges.
Whilst up at Cambridge, George was very popular amongst his peers, and quite responsible and capable, so he managed to lead a good life and simultaneously pursue his education. To quote his own words, he worked hard and played hard as well. He was a keen golfer and tennis amateur. Years later when he set up in business he spent some important time researching markets where to introduce his small but cute fashion collection. After a short while he was selling his belts, wallets and other leather accessories to the best stores in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and other main cities of Spain.
He was a master copying the best designs of Italy and France which he would produce by local craftsmen and market to his established clientele. His forte was his unique marketing skills together with his tremendous drive and ability to convince the most difficult buyers to order his exclusive belts, which had already gained a good reputation. One sale helped to achieve another and in this way George Carpentier became very well established. He built his company from scratch and in five years his turnover was well over the million mark, selling his products in the best stores of London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Sydney.
To quote his own words, he worked hard and played hard as well.
After his second year in business he met Ronald Winters, who was a top brass buckle manufacturer of The East Midlands of England. Ronald convinced George to move his production to England where the best saddlers in existence were located. In those days, China was not in the trade, or at least not to the degree it was to reach in future years.
George moved back to England transferring his production line to several small factories in the UK. This proved to be a turning point in his fashion career. Europe was in general terms a synonymous of quality fashion products and Made in England was highly desirable particularly in first class markets like the USA, Japan and Australia along with Europe itself.
George attended the best menswear shows in Paris twice each year in September and February and did so for years to come, making some major contacts and building a massive local French market. The best stores in Paris including Berteil, Upla, Hemispheres, Printemps, Manfield, Agnes B and a vast list too long to mention became part of The French success.
In the mid-eighties George Carpentier made his move to the US market and spent long periods of time developing the market there. In less than two years the best retailers of New York, Chicago and California were retailing his superb mens belts. His turnover had been multiplied several times since the early days and the company was doing very well. On a certain day a Japanese fashion company approached George at a fashion show in New York and asked him if he would consider selling his venture to the Japanese Group. George Carpentier was not sure of whether he would sell off or not. Had it been a European company he would have certainly considered selling and probably keeping a minority interest in the company. But this company was an entirely different story, being located thousands of miles away from England and in an entirely different jurisdiction with a language George could not speak or understand. He eventually sold out to them for what he considered to be an attractive sum which could provide with enough capital to start a new venture. Possibly in fashion or in another different business field. George was 29 years old and had established his fashion business some 7 years earlier.
Thank Goodness that he never put all his eggs in the same basket.
What made George Carpentier close the deal with the Japanese? Was it that the company had reached its peak sales figure? When George started back in 1982 he struggled at the beginning but he was determined to make it to a high degree and this, as it most often happens, came at a heavy cost. George had to sacrifice a lot, he hardly had a personal life, worked non stop for years, hardly ever taking a holiday or a break. His mind was totally set to make his venture fly and he did not have time for anything else. He disliked parties and wasting time. All he wanted was to see his company achieve success.
George suffered a set-back from a dodgy manufacturer who stole all his designs and sold them secretly to other cheap sources using inferior quality products. Thank Goodness that he never put all his eggs in the same basket so he immediately switched his production to other reliable sources and managed to recover in less than a season. Was this an important factor to make George Carpentier sell off?
Finally, one day George’s father mentioned to him that because of his business commitments he was flying much more than a commercial aviation pilot, and however much money he was making, if he set his mind to property development, he could probably make substantially more doing a fraction of the work and closing deals in the golf course. Was his father right or wrong? It did not take too long to calculate the thousands and thousands of leather belts he had to produce to match the vast profits that could be obtained from a medium size property deal concluded in the French Riviera of The Algarve. Was this a turning point in his decision?