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MEDIA & MARKETING | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong
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Heart Media CEO Olivier Burlot talks about Singapore being an Asian capital of culture

And check out his plans as elected president of Media Publishers Association.

Olivier Burlot's publishing dreams started when he worked at Hachette-Filippachi, the publisher of ELLE magazine. For seven years, he mastered all the basics of publishing at Hachette-Filippachi until he finally co-founded his own publishing firm ADKOM. In 2008, he sold his firm to Singapore Press Holdings.

It took five years of researching regional markets before he managed to find a new opportunity to continue his publishing venture. In 2013, he acquired Heart Media with the help of a pool of investors. In over four years, Heart Media has already grown substantially, with over 20 publications circulating in news and magazines stands in Singapore.

In an exclusive interview with Singapore Business Review, Burlot talks about how his titles are contributing to Singapore's culture, and fashion and art industry. He also lays out his plans as he chairs Media Publishers Association (MPAS) once again.
 

SBR: What were the previous posts you held prior to being the CEO and Publisher of Heart Media Group? How did these help shape you into the leader that you are now?

I arrived in Asia in 1994, and was then working for 7 years at Hachette-Filippachi, the publisher of ELLE magazine. It was there that I had learnt all the basics of publishing. In 2001, I co-founded a publishing company, ADKOM, which was subsequently sold in 2008 to SPH. After researching regional markets for new opportunities in the publishing field, I acquired Heart Media in 2013 together with a pool of investors, a Singapore based publishing company. In just over 4 years, Heart Media has grown substantially and we are today publishing a total of 20 publications in Singapore, in Malaysia and across SEA, we operate 8 websites and we organize high-end events (the SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS, the PHUKET RENDEZVOUS and soon the PENANG RENDEZVOUS). We now have a team of 70 highly-skilled professionals.

SBR: What are your business philosophies and top three priorities for Heart Media Group?

Stay focused, push creativity and remain open to changes affecting both the media scene and society in general. Along those lines, we keep building on our key brands, L’OFFICIEL, WOW, MEN’S FOLIO and ART REPUBLIK

SBR: Tell us about your move into digital with LUXUO.com and what it is about.

Holding a portfolio of publications ranging from watches to fashion, art, yachts, we felt the need to acquire a digital property that would serve as a content aggregator for the whole group. We therefore made the acquisition in 2015 of the fast growing luxury portal www.luxuo.com, established in Hong Kong in 2007. It has proven a wise business decision and a great success in terms of reaching a new audience. LUXUO today generates close to 400,000 unique visitors per month, over 1 million of page views and is growing rapidly. LUXUO.com first perfectly well in our strategy to focus on the luxury & high-end media market. I now spend every morning close to 30 minutes on my Google Analytics to understand the latest traffic trends!

SBR: What is your new event, the SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS

The SINGAPORE RENDEZVOUS (www.singaporerendezvous.com) was started in 2016. The next edition will be held at Raffles Marina from October 5 to 8 2017. It is a unique 4-day event in Singapore as it comprises of yachts (25 to 30 on display), classic cars, super cars, watches, champagne & alcohol tastings, photography workshops, etc. A real experience of a high-end nautical lifestyle. This year we are expecting close to 10,000 visitors. And the PHUKET RENDEZVOUS will follow just after (January 4-7 2018, Royal Phuket Marina, Thailand). Exciting events ahead!

SBR: Could you tell us more about your art title, ART REPUBLIK?

I am an art lover and I felt rather surprised when arriving in Singapore in 2012 that there was not a single substantial magazine about the arts. Based on our experience of the publishing market and our extensive network amongst advertisers, we have decided to launch in December 2013 ART REPUBLIK which has generated an amazing amount of buzz in the market amongst art collectors and galleries. We have avoided publishing a magazine perceived as “pedantic” and “arrogant” as it is often the case amongst art publications. ART REPUBLIK has a vibrant layout, is pleasant to read and provides a full coverage of what is hot & happening in the art scene in this part of the world. 20,000 copies of the magazine are printed every issue and we update the related Instagram feed @art_republik on a daily basis. We are exhibiting at ARTSTAGE and love to meet our readers during the annual 2 Affordable Art Fairs held in Singapore.

SBR: Do you see Singapore as an Asian capital of culture? How will it change over the next few years?

Singapore has already changed a lot over the past 15 years, and for the better. Look at the stunning National Gallery that opened in 2015! It is now a city firmly recognized for its art events, museums and galleries on the global map. The art scene is today vibrant. We see Singapore as a great platform to appreciate the best of the region in terms of creation, art, new trends. From Vietnam to Indonesia through Burma and Malaysia, we witness a great deal of artists choosing Singapore to exhibit their latest artworks. This is a major achievement. Through ART REPUBLIK we wish to encourage such creative energy and the emergence of new talents.

SBR: You were also elected president of the Media Publishers Association (MPAS). What insights is that giving you into the direction of the industry?

My ultimate advise to all media owners: not be afraid of exploring new business opportunities. In our case, we went from Publishing to Digital to Events. We now have major 3 lines of business. The example of the Charlton Media group is a similar one with the creation of new lines of business. The Media industry has radically changed over the past 10 years and it will still be a different one in 10 years. Be ready for some turbulences and new challenges. But above all, keep building on your brands and adapt them to a fast changing business environment.

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