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Hornburg Calypso CEO Dutoya dies at 75

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Sad loss: Pierre Dutoya, CEO of Hornburg Calypso Ltd, played a significant role in the expansion of fashion and retail in Bermuda over the past 30 years (File photograph)
Pierre Dutoya, left, had a passion for motor racing. He is pictured with his brother Laurent at Monza, Italy in 2012, where they had just won a race (Photograph supplied)
Pierre Dutoya (Photograph supplied)

Bermuda has lost one of its best known retailers. Pierre Dutoya, who for 30 years helmed Hornburg Calypso, has died at 75.

He became general manager of the business, which operates a group of clothing and accessories shops, in the early 1990s. Mr Dutoya played a significant role in its expansion as it added outlets that brought leading European fashion brands to the island, including French Connection, Sisley, Max Mara, United Colours of Benetton and Longchamp.

Although hailing from Paris, he was not involved in the fashion world in his early years. He worked for his family’s engineering company, which specialised in high tech rubber and plastic products.

That changed when he met Suzannah Hornburg, the daughter of Hornburg Calypso owners John and Polly Hornburg, in Paris in 1967. She was in the French capital learning the buying business.

They married, and Mr Dutoya moved to Bermuda in 1988.

Following the death of Mr Hornburg, Mr Dutoya became chief executive officer of Hornburg Calypso Ltd. With stores and boutiques around the island, including within hotels, at the mall in Dockyard, and around Hamilton, there was a strong focus on European fashion names. The lemon yellow-painted Calypso store on Front Street is the flagship store.

Calypso grew a reputation for developing shop space and creating quality retail environments.

Mr Dutoya recognised that Bermuda's people were great travellers and were regularly exposed to pleasant shopping environments found in the US. He said: “The consumer in Bermuda is very sophisticated so you need to be able to respond to consumer demand and you must have imagination and a vision of the new market.”

He also recognised that many North American visitors come to Bermuda hoping to find European styles not readily available stateside.

Mr Dutoya was described as outgoing, almost exuberant, and would willingly share his opinion. In 2001, he called for a proactive campaign to pedestrianise a section of Reid Street to revitalise the retail sector. In a letter to The Royal Gazette, he wrote: “The idea of taking your car in to do the shopping died in the 1960s. It is finished. Tourists have no cars to park, so it is not their concern. Their concern is to have, on not such a sunny day, the opportunity to do their shopping in a friendly environment and outside.”

During a turndown in retail trade on the island in early 2000s, he said: “I believe that even if every business will totally change, I will be the last one left...because I fight.”

After the closure of Trimingham’s and Smith’s department stores, Mr Dutoya said it could bring opportunities to other medium-sized retailers. He said shop owners and businesses that succeed will be those who introduce international brands that are popular with Bermuda’s sophisticated shoppers.

In 2007, Hornburg Calypso opened Sisley, one of Europe’s premier fashion names, on the corner of Front Street and Par-la-Ville Road. This was followed in 2008 by Women’s Secret on Reid Street.

Mr Dutoya often said that in business you either progress or regress, and that Hornburg Calypso decided to progress.

Outside of the business, Mr Dutoya had a lifelong passion for track racing and owned a racing car. He was inspired by his brother-in-law Willy Mairesse, who was a driver for team Ferrari.

The first car he raced was a gull-wing Mercedes, followed by an Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato from the family collection. In the 1970s, he was joined by his brother Laurent, and together they raced in an Elva Maclaren, winning many endurance races lasting from three to 24 hours at tracks throughout Europe, such as Monza and Spa.

Mr Dutoya’s last race was in 2019, at Magny-Cours in France. He won.

Mr Dutoya, who was born in 1944, died on November 4. He is survived by his wife Suzannah, sister Dorine, brother Laurent and sister-in-law Lisa.

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Published November 20, 2020 at 2:50 pm (Updated November 20, 2020 at 2:48 pm)

Hornburg Calypso CEO Dutoya dies at 75

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