PARIS — “We are on the road to significant growth for 2004,” said Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. “In April, group sales increased at double digits in constant currency exchange...
PARIS — “We are on the road to significant growth for 2004,” said Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. “In April, group sales increased at double digits in constant currency exchange rates.”
Arnault delivered the upbeat message Thursday at back-to-back LVMH and Christian Dior shareholders’ meetings here.
The French luxury titan added that sales in the U.S. had been “extraordinary,” with Asia and Japan equally robust, despite weaker growth in Europe and especially France.
“I’ve just returned from the United States and business is astonishing,” said Arnault. “Japan, for the first time in 10 years, is coming out of its economic crisis. And watches and jewelry have been very strong. [The category] has one of the highest growth rates in the group for the first part of the year.”
He predicted that a likely hike in U.S. interest rates, which, some analysts fear, could cool resurgent spending in luxury, “would not significantly” alter the pace of business. Arnault said a one or two point rise in interest rates would have a marginal effect on spending and probably inflate the value of the dollar against the euro and thus improve LVMH’s profitability.
As reported, LVMH’s net profits rose 30 percent to 723 million euros last year, or $818.5 million. In the first quarter of 2004, sales rose 2 percent to 2.85 billion euros, or $3.56 billion, LVMH’s best showing in the past five quarters. Dollar figures are converted at the average exchange rate.
“Last year we performed well in difficult circumstances,” said Arnault. “If the environment is better, we should perform better.”
Indeed, luxury has been gaining momentum, with Europe’s major firms reporting strong first-quarter sales as the climate improves for the sector. Arnault said this revival could be sustained, especially as travel flows improve and business booms at the group’s directly owned stores.
He added that LVMH’s star brands, such as Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, continue to perform beyond expectations.
“There is still room for growth,” said Arnault. “And Vuitton has the biggest potential because demand exceeds our production capabilities.”He continued, “In the United States, there are waiting lists for the multicolored [Theda] bags. By the end of the year, we’ll have [caught up with demand]. But by that time, we’ll have launched new products and we’ll have another situation of trying to keep up.”
Meanwhile, Arnault said Fendi, the Italian fashion and leather house, now had assembled the right ingredients to elevate it to star status.
“We have exceptional creative leadership from Karl Lagerfeld, the management is great and the growth is among the best in the group. The team at Fendi has experience in this trade and the brand’s success is more or less a given. But it will take three to four years.”
Arnault said LVMH would continue to focus on organic growth. He said the DFS, or Duty Free Shoppers, and Sephora perfumery chain, which analysts consider noncore interests for LVMH, would not be sold until they had been made profitable.
Meanwhile, shareholders approved the naming of three members to LVMH’s board: LVMH financial director Patrick Houel; Hubert Vedrine, the former French foreign minister, and Arnault’s 29-year-old daughter, Delphine.
Shares in LVMH gained 0.79 percent to close at 57.25 euros, or $67.56 at current exchange, in trading on the Paris Bourse.
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
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye