Mentor Spotlight:
Regine Picard
CEO, Selective Trademark Union

Once a month we spotlight one of our mentors at PortXL, who will share an industry challenge.

Regine Picard, currently the CEO of Selective Trademark Union, is a supply chain veteran with more than 20 years of experience in international logistics between Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas. Regine has held leadership roles in major logistics companies like Geodis and Panalpina.

Recently returned to Hong Kong where she is currently based, she now leverages her knowledge of global logistics and luxury business to combat counterfeit production and trade.

In this interview, Regine highlights the challenge of Intellectual Property (IP) enforcement and its direct relevance to the supply chain industry.

How did you start and grow your career in supply chain?

I started my career in shipping in 1995 in Hong Kong – no better place to get first-hand experience in the active business of freight forwarding!

At that time, the opportunities in Hong Kong were in banking, trading, shipping and luxury. I’ve always been in luxury logistics since the beginning of my career, probably due to my cultural French connection to luxury products!

My previous roles required me to constantly develop new logistics solutions by analysing how regulations, trade agreements, trading routes, and manufacturing landscapes evolve vis-a-vis consumer goods demand.

From 2003 to 2012, I was based in Hong Kong, first as Regional Sales and Marketing Manager and eventually rising to Managing Director for Geodis Global Solutions Asia Pacific. I then moved on to the US as Managing Director for the Americas, developing investment strategies for new markets and evolving business models to be replicated in other regions.

In Geodis, I was in various vertical markets like luxury, technology and automotive.

The early 2000s was an excellent time to be in Hong Kong for the luxury business in particular, as that was when both high-end and affordable luxury brands were just breaking into the Asian market through Hong Kong as the regional gateway.

After a decade in Geodis, I continued to grow my supply chain career with Panalpina in 2013, this time focusing only on the luxury segment.

I was the Vice President of Luxury Fashion and Beauty Products for the Americas, where I helped luxury companies increase their competitiveness in supply chain management and business growth strategies.

You’re now in a new chapter of your career in Intellectual Property (IP) Enforcement for luxury products. How has your supply chain experience been a value-add in this new role?

I work with leading global brands, authorities, and International Government Organisations (IGOs) to eradicate circulation of counterfeit luxury goods, such as leather products, perfumes, watches and jewelry.

Here we talk about black markets and grey markets, both offline and online. Counterfeit sales (black market) was estimated at USD 436 billion in 2013 and set to reach 2.3 trillion in 2022

It’s a rapidly growing problem that affects all countries, especially USA, France, Italy and Switzerland. Brands need to protect their IP rights to minimise the risks of losing not just sales, but also diminished consumer confidence.

According to statistics, the following counterfeit product categories are shipped by sea: 37% of food products, 4% pharmaceuticals, 15% perfumes and cosmetics, 6% of electronics and electrical equipment, 4% of leather items and handbags, 30% toys, games and sports equipment.

Asian countries like China are the largest exporters of counterfeit goods, and with the rise of e-commerce and new trade routes, it is more challenging than ever to combat infringement of IP rights.

My new role in luxury IP enforcement gives me the opportunity to leverage my knowledge of the global luxury business, evolution of regulations in countries, supply chain processes, distribution channels and transportation options to tackle IP-related issues that have a big impact on the business.

Putting these pieces together illuminates macro and micro views of the entire counterfeit luxury supply chain. For example, understanding the manufacturing landscape and the evolution of trade routes can shed valuable insights on where counterfeiters would potentially target and hence be identified.

In addition, as counterfeiters look at trends and niche markets, we predict consumer mindsets to deduce key drivers of the black and grey markets. This way, we can go beyond what is happening now and work on deterrence in parallel markets.

You’ve worked with China partners, both in your current role in IP enforcement and previously in Geodis. What were some insights you gained on the Chinese way of business?

China has a complex supply chain ecosystem, with manufacturers of finished goods, raw materials, semi finished goods, assemblers, importers, distributors, and more. But after my years in the US, I don’t think that China is that different in its supply chain complexity.

The main obstacle is language, as business is conducted mostly in Chinese.

In Geodis, I learnt that like everywhere else in the world, clients in China are not simply looking for logistics infrastructure, but the consultative aspect to further enhance their business.

For example, in Chengdu, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou (to name some of the cities), there are multiple types of warehouses of varying sizes and functions. Clients expect us to guide them on the pros and cons of each option, and value-add in terms of new opportunities – all of which affect their cash flow.

So if you take into account various factors that impact the supply chain, warehousing is just the tip of the iceberg.

When it comes to IP enforcement, China represents 80-85% of manufacturing and trade in the black market. It’s also a major player in distribution and consumption of such goods.

We identity marketplaces where infringement on IP rights occur. An example would be tracking down players who deal in the promotion and selling of these products in e-commerce marketplaces like Alibaba or Taobao, or social media like WeChat, then taking them down.

In your opinion, how can the shipping industry reposition itself in light of this evolving e-commerce landscape?

The globalisation of commerce is going through a new era that has big implications for the shipping industry. More categories of products are accessible to consumers from anywhere to anywhere in the world, and delivered faster than ever.

But my point of view is that the maritime industry has not yet found its levers.

With new routes, strategic transit points, Free Trade Zones and distribution points coming into play, the shipping industry has to cope with new challenges.

We are only just starting to explore new avenues for shipping. For example, the new routes offered to the shipping lines – the Arctic and the North Sea of Russia becoming passages – are areas of exploration, offering cost reduction and transit time improvements between the Far East and the Occident. China has unveiled her vision for a ‘Polar Silk Road’ infrastructure to avoid the Suez Canal, and improve by almost 20 days access to some destinations.

Within this spirit of streamlining shipping and staying ahead of the airfreight industry, there could be more cooperation among port managements, shipping lines, forwarders and e-tailers to design newer delivery options. Logistics is constantly evolving, and it’s not simply about technology.