Hidden away at the end of one of Soho’s lesser-known lanes is Quintessentially. If that means nothing to you, then chances are you are not a high-net-worth individual with a taste for the finer things in life.
Quintessentially is a private members’ club and operator of what it claims is the world’s leading luxury concierge service, counting the likes of Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and P Diddy as clients. Over the past two years or so, Quintessentially has been rolling out an aggressive international expansion plan, both for its core concierge service and for a growing number of new, related businesses.
These include bespoke car service Quintessentially Driven, Quintessentially Publishing, which produces an eclectic series of coffeetable books, and global property search company Quintessentially Estates.
All the new businesses are closely related to the company’s core area of expertise – top-end entertainment and service. And the man charged with overseeing the company’s current growth is Paul Drummond, a former Norton Rose corporate assistant turned Quintessentially group commercial director and lead in-house lawyer.
When The Lawyer showed up in late summer to interview him, the buzz and activity in the office was such that Drummond had difficulty finding an empty room in which to talk. Eventually, squirreled away in a bolthole next to a room housing another one of the new spin-off businesses, Quintessentially Models, Drummond revealed what is driving his company’s current expansion.
“Every city in the world has a bunch of wealthy people and a bunch of things wealthy people like to do,” says Drummond. “Everything that’s not work-related and is legal, we do for them. It’s basically accessing the inaccessible and really glamming it up. And we need to have a base in all the top cities to serve our members there and also to look after our members when they travel there.”
On top of the growth of its concierge service, Quintessentially is also driving forward the international expansion of its related ventures. “This is where it gets really exciting,” says Drummond. “They all started in London, but in the same way the concierge business is now in 46 offices around the world, we’re starting to spread the sister businesses out with them. They’ll all be global to some extent within three years.”
Eight years ago Drummond’s colleagues at Norton Rose told him he was, as he self-effacingly puts it, “a complete idiot” for leaving his three year-PQE salary for what was in essence a startup. Now, as one of three founder members (the others are entrepreneur and former film-maker Aaron Simpson and nightclub impresario, and cousin of Tom Parker-Bowles, Camilla’s son, Ben Elliot) heading a company with 1,100 employees around the world, all of his law firm mates say it was a great idea.
While Drummond might not have been at Norton Rose very long, he did pick up some useful knowledge there. “The way we’ve expanded is partly organic, but the majority is via a franchise model that I wrote one weekend a few years ago,” says the constantly self-deprecating and self-confessedly garrulous Drummond.
“I wrote all the systems and processes,” he recalls. “At Norton Rose I was in the corporate and private equity group, so my expertise is primarily contractual, shareholders’ agreements and so on. It was probably the first transferable skill I had. Then I stopped doing that and we hired proper people, but I still manage all the corporate structuring and commercial arrangements we enter into.”
On top of franchising, legal work at Quintessentially also includes corporate and commercial deals with the business partners that provide the top-end services the concierge business demands – Cartier, Mandarin Oriental, Jaguar and Bedat. Then there is litigation.
“There’s a lot of trademark infringement,” says Drummond, “because we have a powerful brand and people can be lazy and shameless about ripping off your brand.”
When Drummond does decide that external legal muscle is required, his first port of call in the UK is usually Dewey & LeBoeuf London competition partner Peter Crowther, who manages his firm’s wider relationship with the business.
Dewey recently helped Quintessentially set up the Quintessentially Foundation, a fundraising organisation, which recently raised £330,000 in three hours for UK environmental charity the Soil Association. Dewey handled the work pro bono, with corporate ;associate ;Claudia Hendrischke taking the lead. The company will also use local lawyers, primarily for IP matters in relation to trademark battles (it recently instructed New York firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed on one such case).
Like the roots of Quintessentially itself, which lie in friendships between Drummond, Simpson and Eliot stretching back to university, it is all about relationships.
Name: Paul Drummond
Sector: Luxury goods and services
Position: Group commercial director
Reporting to: CEO Aaron Simpson
Legal spend: Approx £150,000 per annum
Legal capability: Two
Main law firms: UK – Dewey & LeBoeuf (corporate and commercial); Lewis Silkin (IP); Carter Ruck or Leigh & Allen (litigation). US – John Grimmer & Associates (corporate and commercial); Hughes Hubbard & Reed (IP and litigation).
Paul Drummond’s CV
1990-93: St Edmund Hall, Oxford University
1994: LPC, Nottingham Law School
Employment: 1995-97: Trainee solicitor, Kennedys
1997-2000: Solicitor, company commercial and corporate finance, Norton Rose
2000-04: Co-founder and operations director
2004-06: Head of the Middle East
2006-present: Group commercial director and head of legal