CHARLESTON, SC— Ushering in the next chapter of growth for the established housewares brand, Le Creuset, after an extensive search to find a new CEO after the retirement of Faye Gooding, has appointed Greg Cairo to the chief executive position.
He joined Le Creuset in August. Cairo has spent the last 13 years of his career with Groupe SEB, holding several high-ranking positions including vp/sales, president and vp/northern Latin America. The skills that Cairo developed while working in these positions, as well as his brand development knowledge, noted Simon van Zuydam, group executive director of Le Creuset, ensured he would be the housewares leader who would be able to blend Le Creuset’s tradition while positioning the brand for the next generation of consumers.
HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® senior editor, Emily Cappiello, spoke to Cairo about balancing the company’s tradition with forward movement, managing all of the brand’s channels and his favorite dish to cook in his Le Creuset Dutch oven.
HomeWorld Business: What about Le Creuset attracted you to the company?
Greg Cairo: The strength of the brand and consumer sentiment are a testament to its cherished heritage and how carefully it is managed. Additionally, I am very passionate about this category and the opportunities for growth.
HWB: What are some of your immediate goals for the company since being named CEO?
GC: Firstly, tapping into the vast wealth of knowledge by connecting with our people and partners. From there we will add and leverage my experience to shape our multi-year strategy.
HWB: Le Creuset is rooted in tradition. How will you honor that while pushing the brand forward into the future?
GC: Loyalty to the DNA of the brand is critical, while continuing a culture of change management and innovation that reinforces our core values.
HWB: Where do you feel the brand stands with cookware consumers now? Are you hoping to help shift or change that? How and why?
GC: Le Creuset has always stood for the finest in quality and design and been a favorite for generations, all of which are still extremely relevant today and will be enduring and desirable attributes into the future.
HWB: What about your housewares background do you feel will be the most beneficial to you in this new position, especially since you came from a company with a broader industry perspective?
GC: Applying my knowledge of the category, passion for product development and longstanding industry relationships to Le Creuset is truly exciting.
HWB: Le Creuset is often a target for counterfeits, knock-offs, etc. How will you continue to battle this in the market?
GC: The brand position is clear and we will remain focused on delivering our ownable point of view as the first, finest and favorite cookware.
HWB: Known for its color story, how will you continue to grow awareness of Le Creuset’s other cookware lines, such as its stainless steel and non-stick cookware, that arguably may not get as much attention?
GC: Continuing to deliver exceptional product in all categories that are well positioned in the marketplace will be a focus, but when buying Le Creuset, you are buying into more than just a product and we can never lose sight of that.
HWB: Le Creuset is distributed through a variety of retail channels, from independents to Le Creuset stores. How will you work to manage these channels and the flow of goods? How would you look to change or streamline these efforts?
GC: Ensuring we have a thorough and aligned brand, product and commercial strategy are the foundational elements for success. From there, the consumer can choose which attributes are most important to them as they make their purchase decision.
HWB: If you could only cook one meal in your Le Creuset Dutch oven ever again, what would it be?
GC: I can’t wait to make my grandmother’s Bolognese. It is a family favorite with a lot of memories attached to it.