Nicolas joined The Smiley Company, as VP of Marketing in 1996, later becoming its CEO in 2001, prior to that he was co-founder and president of Ozwald Boateng.
Nicolas has enjoyed a long and successful career in the luxury goods business; he played a key part in the transformation of Ozwald Boateng from a market trader on Portobello Road to become an internationally renowned Saville Row tailor. Today Ozwald Boateng’s collections are shown on catwalks around the world, stocked in some of the world’s leading retailers and the brand enjoys a cult celebrity following. These successes were directly attributable to Nicolas’s business acumen and acute understanding of the world of fashion.
In 1996 Nicolas was persuaded by his father Franklin Loufrani to join his business, Smiley, and help revolutionise it from its very traditional ‘nuts and bolts’ consumer merchandising licensing model. Whilst it was a difficult career move away from the luxury goods market, which was his passion, he knew that he could use his knowledge of trend, cutting edge design and the fast evolving world of technology to revolutionise Smiley forever.
In 1997 Nicolas was responsible for one of the biggest achievements of his career, by recognizing the growth in mobile technology and the use of ascii emoticons, he had the inspiration to revolutionise this world by creating the first 3D digital Smileys using the existing Smiley face. From this concept SmileyWorld was born, a new brand from Smiley that embodied the spirit of the digital generation and was dedicated to technology, music and todays digital lifestyle. SmileyWorld became the world’s first truly interactive multimedia brand and established itself as a universal digital language and a key part in our daily vocabulary today with billions of emoticons shared every day.
Nicolas also focused on creating global awareness of Smiley as a brand in its own right by moving away from an over licensed image and into a strategically driven fashion lifestyle brand. This idea behind this was for Smiley to coexist across all segments in the market and be as comfortable in a specialty independent boutique as it is in a mass-market chain.
As part of this vision Nicolas decided that it was imperative to push Smiley towards catwalk collaborations with some of the world’s leading fashion designers to ensure that Smiley was always in the eyes of the fashion journalists and industry tastemakers. This unique concept has seen Smiley collaborate with some of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses in recent years including Christian Dior, Moschino, JC De Castelbajac, Anya Hindmarch and Fyodor Golan.
Nicolas also believed that it was key to the businesses ethos of “making the world a happier place” that Smiley would also become a philanthropic organization and with this he created The Smiley Fund charity. Smiley Fund is a non-profitable organization that works actively against all forms of social isolation and its main goal is to promote solidarity all over the world by helping those in need. The SWA is involved in education, social integration, housing, health care, sustainable development, fair trade and international solidarity.
Today Nicolas has overseen the transformation of Smiley into a globally recongnised brand that is distributed in tens of thousands of retail stores around the world, generating annual turnover in excess of $405 million (of which $267 million is attributable to SmileyWorld) and selling over 136 million units year round. Smiley has 97% brand recognition throughout the world and remains one of the TOP100 global licensing businesses, that is trademarked in over 100 counties across more than twelve product categories.