PARIS -- Acquisition-hungry Bernard Arnault, who last week gained financial control of Guerlain SA, may be eyeing Van Cleef & Arpels as another addition to his luxury goods empire.
While statements from the involved parties about Arnault's interest in buying and Van Cleef's interest in selling are not consistent, Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has made no secret of his interest in acquiring a prestigious brand in the jewelry and watch business. It is the one important sector of the luxury goods industry in which LVMH does not have a strong presence.
In addition to the Guerlain deal, LVMH controls the perfumes and fashion businesses of Christian Lacroix, Givenchy and Kenzo; Parfums Dior; Louis Vuitton; Hennessy brandy, and one quarter of the French champagne market, including brands like Veuve Clicquot, Pommery, Dom Perignon and Moet et Chandon.
Founded in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels is totally owned by around 20 members of the Arpels family. Jacques Arpels, the 80-year-old head of the family, is president.
Speaking through a spokeswoman, Van Cleef & Arpels managing director Ferdinand Ripoll said, "We cannot make an official statement. It's clear that LVMH wants to buy a great jeweler. He's certainly interested in us, but he's not the only one. Van Cleef & Arpels is 100 percent family owned and plans to stay that way for the moment."
The spokeswoman declined to name any other possible bidders.
The prestigious Paris-based jeweler, however, has apparently been on the block for some time.
"My understanding is that the business has been up for sale for two years," said Jean Weber, president of Start, Style & Art SA, the Swiss company that controls the worldwide watch license of Van Cleef & Arpels.
"Mr. [Jacques] Arpels is an old man. Maybe he wants out. Though I really couldn't say if LVMH is interested," added Weber.
A spokeswoman for LVMH said: "Our group is looking at a number of prospectuses, but we are not in a hurry to buy anything. It all depends on the price and other factors. Van Cleef & Arpels may well have been one of the companies we have had a look at, perhaps, but I can say no more than that."Analysts in Paris say Arnault is eager to establish a presence in the jewelry business.
"Mr. Arnault clearly would like to have a strong name in jewelry. He told us that two years ago at a meeting of analysts. It's the one area of luxury goods where LVMH is weak," said Jean-Marie L'Home, an analyst with Paris stockbroker BZW Puget Mahe.
L'Home cautioned that any LVMH bid for the jeweler would probably have to involve Elf-Sanofi, the state-run beauty company that controls the Van Cleef & Arpels perfume license.
"Elf-Sanofi makes any bid complicated. Frankly, it's hard to see Arnault working with Elf-Sanofi -- very hard," said L'Home.
LVMH certainly can afford to make still another acquisition. In a deal completed last week, Guinness PLC, the British alcoholic beverage company, paid LVMH about $1.4 billion for 34 percent of its Moet Hennessy beverage business.
According to figures reported to the government, Van Cleef & Arpels earned a net profit of $4.4 million (24.8 million francs) on sales of $36.7 million (207.3 million francs) last year. These results were down from 1991, when net totaled 35 million francs and sales, 227 million francs, and they were well below 1990 figures, when net was 50.3 million francs and sales reached 305 million francs.
Weber declined to provide sales figures for Van Cleef & Arpels watches, but did say that between 7,000 and 8,000 watches were sold annually.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye