Daily Mail

LVMH hit as luxury falls out of fashion

As Bernard Arnault sets up succession battle among his five children . . .

- By Emily Hawkins

He is known as ‘the wolf in cashmere’ after turning LVMH into a £333bn luxury goods powerhouse through a string of ruthless acquisitio­ns that helped turbocharg­e growth.

And now Bernard Arnault – who has made himself the world’s richest man in the process with a fortune of £175bn – is setting the scene for his five children to take over the empire.

But the looming handover comes amid dwindling demand for luxury goods as the era of post-pandemic revenge spending comes to an end.

LVMH yesterday said sales in the first quarter were just 3pc higher than a year earlier at a still impressive £17.7bn.

But this was the weakest January to March performanc­e since 2020 when the world was plunged into Covid lockdowns. Outside the pandemic, it was the slowest first quarter since 2016.

Sales at its fashion and leather goods arm were up just 2pc in another sign that even the superwealt­hy are hesitant to splash out on pricey handbags and coats from the likes of Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. In the same period last year, sales were up 18pc. LVMH is seen as a bellwether for the industry because it owns so many brands, from Tiffany, Fendi and Celine to Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon and Bulgari.

The Louis Vuitton Capucines bag – which is advertised by Dune actress Zendaya ( picturedri­ght) – can cost more than £26,000.

LVMH is the first major player to update on its first quarter, providing an insight into the spending habits of the affluent and the health of the wider industry.

As feared, group sales fell 6pc in Asia, excluding Japan.

But chief financial officer JeanJacque­s Guiony insisted he was ‘quite happy’ with levels of demand from Chinese shoppers, who have been buying more goods abroad.

‘In an uncertain geopolitic­al and economic environmen­t, LVMH remains both vigilant and confident at the start of the year,’ the company said.

Its rivals have struggled with far more dramatic hits to sales.

Gucci owner Kering sounded the alarm last month when it warned first quarter sales would be dragged down around 10pc by weaker demand in Asia.

Although LVMH was knocked off its spot as europe’s largest company by weight-loss drug Ozempic owner Novo Nordisk last September, it is still worth more than its luxury rivals.

And attention will now turn to what 75- year- old Arnault – who is worth more than Tesla boss elon Musk, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – has in store.

He has shown no signs of slowing down after raising the age limit for his position of chief executive to 80 two years ago.

His empire-building began when he convinced his father’s constructi­on company to buy a textiles business shortly after his graduation from a prestigiou­s Parisian university. But there may be succession hints at an annual meeting tomorrow. Rumours have swirled over which one of the five siblings will be anointed to take on the business.

They all have major roles in the group, giving rise to a real-life Succession­style inheritanc­e saga, similar to the TV show starring Brian Cox.

Many think Arnault’s only daughter Delphine, who celebrated her 49th birthday earlier this month, is a frontrunne­r. She was appointed head of illustriou­s fashion label Christian Dior last year.

But those close to the group told the Financial Times this week that it is too early to say who will be crowned successor.

Luxury retail expert Wizz Selvey added: ‘While the LVMH heirs exhibit varying degrees of capability and creative sensibilit­y, there isn’t as yet a clear successor to Bernard Arnault.’

Investors will this week vote to appoint Alexandre, 31, and Frederic, 29, to the board.

Alexandre has a top job at jeweller Tiffany while his brother is in charge of the group’s watches division.

Older siblings, Delphine and Antoine, 46, who runs the group’s communicat­ions arm, are already on the board.

The youngest son – Jean, 25, who runs the watches division at the Louis Vuitton brand – is also rumoured to be in line for a board position in time.

There will also be updates from Gucci owner Kering, Prada and Hermes next week.

British luxury label Burberry and Cartier owner Richemont will report in May.

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 ?? ?? Frontrunne­r? Delphine pictured with her father
Frontrunne­r? Delphine pictured with her father

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