‘Doing the right thing isn’t just morally imperative; it’s become a competitive necessity’: Belmond GC Abbi Hunt

Luxury Law London Summit Chair talks about building community, the role of in-house luxury counsel, supporting women at work and her biggest luxury

Abbi Hunt has spent more than 15 years advising on international luxury hospitality

A senior in-house counsel with nearly 30 years of experience, Abbi Hunt is the general counsel of Belmond, one of the world’s foremost luxury hospitality and leisure companies, which was acquired by LVMH in 2018. She joined the company as a solicitor in 2007 and took on increasing responsibilities until being named the company’s top lawyer in 2021. Abbi began her career as a corporate associate at Olswang (now CMS) in 1996. She is serving as the chair of the Luxury Law Summit London, “Reimagining Luxury: Disruption, Design and Distinction”, which will be held on 11 June at the British Museum. Click here to register. 

Abbi, you are a very busy executive with Belmond. Why are you interested in taking on the role of chair for the Luxury Law Summit?

It is a privilege to have been asked. I have long admired what the Luxury Law Summit has done to create an international community of lawyers in our sector, and a space where we can gather together to connect, hear best practices and spark ideas. It is my pleasure to be able to play a part of it this year and am thoroughly looking forward to spending a day connecting in our community, hearing from our exciting speakers who represent the best in our industry.

You’ve mentioned that it’s a ‘pivotal time’ for the luxury sector. Why?

We as a sector are evolving from the time of the “secret sauce” and opacity to an era of transparency. More than ever, our sector is an integral part in shaping the brand’s narrative, and equally, elevating brand desirability. Today our guests and customers rightly require transparency about the standards we hold ourselves and our supply chains to. A public stance and commitment on modern slavery, sustainability, sanctions compliance and a speak-up culture are a requirement to play in this space. In essence, doing the right thing isn’t just morally imperative; it’s become a competitive necessity. 

You’ve also talked about the importance of building community within the luxury sector. Tell us more about this, why it’s important and the best way to build up the luxury community.

As the legal custodians of businesses whose brands are dependent on “doing the right thing”, we have a huge role to play. The more we can share our experiences and best practices, the better we as a sector can be. The luxury sector is also one where women are well represented. I am passionate about women supporting women at work and am delighted to be taking part in a forum which really supports development for all.

For nearly 17 years, your career has been in the legal department at Belmond, in varying roles. What have been some of the formative experiences for you?

At a macro level, the company I joined had a different name and was listed on the New York stock exchange. Today we are a member of the LVMH group and the journey that brought us to this point has been nothing short of transformational. Not only has our business changed but the regulatory and societal environment in which we operate has too – transparent supply chain, modern slavery, GDPR, code of conduct and sanctions compliance have all presented a challenge for us to respond to, and an opportunity for us to do that through the Belmond lens.

What advice do you have for young lawyers who are interested in the luxury sector?

Take the long view – there are other sectors which pay better at the start of your career, but if luxury speaks to you, be prepared to be patient, you are investing in your future self. Skill up – our businesses rely on broader legal expertise than the typical law firm training provides. Be a student!

Of course, I have to ask a question about your personal luxuries. Do you have a luxury piece or pieces that are especially important or dear to you? We’d love to hear about them.

Time is my biggest luxury – time spent on experiential slow travel is the pinnacle.

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