A FRENCH FAMILY CALLS SINGAPORE A NEW HOME
"I played a French trick on my wife. I took her to the Raffles, to enjoy the style and atmosphere of the grand hotel, where we stayed for eight days. My plan and strategy worked because after two days, she said 'Yes'," Ludovic DE LAGEARD.
Chateau Flojague, a chateau and red wine in the Cotes de Castillon (10 minutes from Saint-Emilion), is the home of the DE LAGEARDS. The family has lived in the region for around 350 years.
Ludovic DE LAGEARD's arrival in Asia has resulted in Champagne Laurent-Perrier becoming much more visible and more widely available, whether in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, Singapore or any of the other countries and places under his responsibility.
"I arrived on 20 August 2005," Ludovic DE LAGEARD informed.
It wasn't, to be sure, de Lageard's first visit to Singapore, nor Asia. After all, he has been in the wine trade for a considerable time and had visited Asia on many previous occasions.
However, that journey four years ago was a more permanent decision because de Lageard had, as representative of Champagne Laurent-Perrier for Asia, decided to base himself and his family in Singapore. Still, why was the exact date so imprinted on the Frenchman's mind?
"When you think about moving to a new country with all your family – wife and kids – you make sure that everything is in good condition. There was a lot of preparation leading up to the trip. We had sold our house (in the City of Bordeaux), our cars, and the children had left their friends.
"When you touch down at the airport with all your suitcases for your new home, it is a very strong feeling because you can't go back. Not to mention that it was only my wife's second trip to Singapore. In the case of the children, they had never, before, been here at all."
It was, therefore, a life-changing move for the entire family.
Ludovic de Lageard's ancestors have been living in the Cotes de Castillon (a mere 10-minute drive from Saint-Emilion) for about 350 years. Indeed, his forbears had fought in the Battle of Castillon, the very same confrontation that finally restored the Aquitaine back to the French.
(It must be remembered that many of the French were actually fighting on the side of the English and, the ebb of time rendering the past something of a blur, de Lageard cannot tell for sure which side his family was supporting).
"My decision to establish my family in Singapore is because it is safe, secure and the language. It is easy to get by here in English.
"Singapore is a good staging point from which to do my work which involves traveling to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, New Caledonia, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. But the true reason is because I have a feel for the people here. You cannot truly live in a country unless you like the people. My wife also feels the same way".
This was in spite of the fact that Severine de Lageard had only been to Singapore once earlier for a look-around, before agreeing to transport her family of a daughter and a son to the Lion City. That first trip was in March 2005, just five months before the eventual move in August of the same year.
Why was Madame de Lageard so convinced?
A FRENCH TRICK
"I played a French trick. I took her to the Raffles, to enjoy the style and atmosphere of the grand hotel, where we stayed for eight days. I had also previously, told her many things about Singapore. My plan and strategy worked because after two days at the Raffles, she said ‘Yes'!"
As for their two children, daughter Sixtine and younger son Charles, adjusting to Singapore and their new home was a huge discovery. Their parents had, in a way, prepared them for the change a long time ago.
"We had many Singaporean and other friends so they were exposed to Asian culture. Singapore was also a place known in their lives as I had been traveling here and told them about it. In fact, they are experts in using chop-sticks," Ludovic de Lageard revealed.
Since they arrived in 2005, daughter Sixtine, who attends the Canadian School, now speaks fluent English. Brother Charles continues to attend the French School and also speaks some English.
FIRST VISIT IN 1990
Ludovic de Lageard first visited Singapore back in January 1990. He had done so, then, in his capacity as Regional Export Manager for Champagne Veuve Clicquot. De Lageard was only 24 years young.
"I remember, prior to being appointed for Asia, the Export Director and I were looking at a map of the world. He was hesitating between giving me Asia or the former Eastern Block countries. He knew I could speak German and would, therefore, have an advantage in the latter countries. But he gave me a choice which region I wanted. I took half a second to say ‘Asia'. The other guy got the Eastern bloc."
It was an easy and comfortable decision for de Lageard to make.
"I had some Chinese French friends in school. I like their philosophy on life. We have many common points with Chinese people. We like food and wines, to enjoy life. As a student in Paris, together with five other friends, two of whom were Asians, we had set up a wine club."
FOR THE CHILDREN
Like Chinese people, the de Lageards live for their children.
"I wanted my family – particularly the children – to be exposed to different cultures. I've had a chance to travel worldwide – Asia, the South Pacific, South America, the United States and Canada. When you travel you get a lot of enriching experiences. Moving here is a great opportunity for my kids.
"When they get back to France, they can speak English and, hopefully, Chinese too. They will have a better understanding of the world and be more mature. My daughter, for example, in her class of 20, she is exposed to different nationalities including Korean, Indian, mainland Chinese, and Canadian."
There are also business reasons for de Lageard to leave France and come out to Asia.
"I wanted a better knowledge of the market. Being based here also means that I can react quickly to the market as Asia is constantly on the move."
Since de Lageard's arrival in Asia, Champagne Laurent-Perrier has certainly become much more visible and more widely available, whether in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, Singapore or any of the other places under his responsibility.
It's fair to say that for family and company alike, both have benefited from the move. It's amazing what 8 days at the Raffles can do to a French woman.