Interview: Christophe Bachelet, Asia-Pacific CEO of ARC (Nanjing)

Christophe is a glass engineer from France. He first came to Nanjing in 2006. Under his leadership, France's ARC has become a leading brand in China's glassware industry. Nanjing has witnessed the establishment and expansion of this enterprise, while Christophe has witnessed personal and family growth. Christophe says that Nanjing has a special meaning for him.


Editor: Could you please give us a brief introduction to ARC (Nanjing)?


Christophe: ARC was first established in France. This transnational enterprise was established in 1825, and during the subsequent 100 years, ARC kept expanding and exploring markets in Asia, America, and other places. Now, we can proudly say that ARC is a leading brand in tableware glass products. Glasses, bowls, and dishes purchased from supermarkets, glass products sold in IKEA, and glassware used at state banquets are all from ARC.


[Background information: In its nearly 200-year history, ARC developed from a small manual workshop with only dozens of workers to an international corporation with 16,000 employees. With advanced production equipment, continuous changes, and sensitive ability to react to market conditions, ARC International has become an influential manufacturer in the dining-table art industry. Christophe, a Frenchman who joined ARC more than 20 years ago, was appointed as the CEO of the Nanjing branch and the Asia-Pacific Region in 2012. With his efforts, this century-old brand constantly radiates new vitality.]


Editor: When did ARC decide to invest in Nanjing?


Christophe: We decided to invest in Nanjing in 2001 and established the plant in 2004. The reason we established a plant here is that there are a number of outstanding craftsmen who are familiar with glass artwork and Nanjing is rich in resources. High-quality raw materials facilitate glass production. ARC comes from France where both the food culture and the tableware culture are rich. So, ARC has its own advantages. I think China and France have diversified food cultures. We offer a variety of glass tableware. Glass is a much better choice than ceramics and plastics as glass from ARC is not contaminated and contains no harmful substances. ARC strictly abides by the production standards of Europe.


Editor: There are differences between Chinese culture and French culture. How do you understand these differences?

 

Christophe: The biggest difference is that the pace of life in China is faster. Chinese people eat quickly, and Chinese merchants, enterprises, and governments make decisions quickly. When we came to China 10 years ago, our minds were filled with French standards and European standards of behavior. However, local employees reminded us that what works in France does not work in China. In recent years, Chinese e-commerce has developed to a global leading position. Since China develops at a faster speed than any other place in the world, we need to adapt to the culture. An enterprise must have the ability to change. We come from France and we just established a bridge to facilitate communication among employees in Nanjing, Korea, and other regions in the Asia-Pacific Region and the headquarters in France to ensure that the French standards are adhered to here. Now, I am half Chinese, whom you cannot judge by appearance. Our products are very special, and integrate traditional cultures of France and China. We hope that consumers who buy our products do not think that there is no difference between ARC and other brands. So, we continue to explore new market channels and new products to provide more choices for consumers.


Editor: You have been living in Nanjing with your family for seven years. What is your overall impression of Nanjing?


Christophe: Nanjing is very special for me. Two of my kids were born in Nanjing. When I came to Nanjing for the first time in 2006, we were a family of four. When I went back to France in 2009, we were a family of six. I was impressed by two things when I came to Nanjing for the first time. One is Nanjing's architecture and history. You know that France has a long history and profound culture. I am interested in art and buildings. Buildings in Nanjing are special, especially buildings in the period of the Republic of China. At that time, Nanjing was the capital. I think there must be a good reason. When I approach those buildings, I feel much closer to this city. The other thing is Purple Mountain. I lived at the foot of Purple Mountain for three years. I like running, so I always ran at Purple Mountain. Purple Mountain is very beautiful. It not only became a part of my life in Nanjing, it is my life.