PARIS — Talk about a luxury homecoming.
This story first appeared in the December 9, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Yves Carcelle, who piloted explosive growth at Louis Vuitton throughout much of the Nineties, is about to put himself back in the drivers’ seat of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s most profitable unit, WWD has learned.
According to sources, Carcelle will take the reins at a decisive time for Vuitton, a star brand that is embarking on a powerful push into emerging markets, such as China, South Korea and India. Marcello Bottoli, who has been president and chief executive officer of Vuitton since September 2001, is expected to exit the post shortly.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Carcelle will continue to head LVMH’s fashion and leather goods division, which also comprises Donna Karan, Fendi, Kenzo, Loewe, Celine, Thomas Pink, Christian Lacroix, Givenchy, Emilio Pucci, Marc Jacobs and Berluti. Sales for the division jumped 13 percent last year to $3.2 billion, as reported.
Reached over the weekend, Carcelle declined to comment. Bottoli could not immediately be reached for comment.
Carcelle, one of LVMH’s most powerful and respected executives, has had a long and gloried history at Louis Vuitton. He is credited for helping make Vuitton the largest luxury brand in the world, with operating margins in excess of 45 percent, among the highest in the industry. Vuitton is a key cash cow for LVMH, contributing some 60 percent of operating profits.
According to a recent Merrill Lynch report on LVMH, Louis Vuitton sales have skyrocketed from about $620 million in 1990 to an estimated $2.7 billion last year. Dollar figures are converted from euros based on current exchange.
In the third quarter of this year, sales growth for the Vuitton brand was estimated at six percent, according to research by Goldman Sachs.
“We believe LV’s performance will prove by far one of the best in the sector,” Goldman added in its Oct. 16 research note.
After managing Vuitton’s rise in the Nineties, Carcelle relinquished the title of Vuitton president in June 2000 and replaced himself with Gianluca Brozzetti, then his second-in-command. About a year later, Brozzetti went on to become the global chief executive of British luxury firm Asprey & Garrard. He was succeeded by Bottoli, who came to Vuitton from household cleaning and personal care giant Reckitt Benckiser.
Over the past year, Bottoli oversaw the launch of Vuitton’s first watch line and the opening of its largest store in the world, a 36,000-square-foot behemoth in Tokyo’s Ometesando.
LVMH recently beefed up the management ranks at Vuitton. Last July, it named Serge Brunschwig, former ceo of Sephora Europe, as general manager of Vuitton responsible for logistics and its network of some 300 boutiques. No stranger to Vuitton, Brunschwig was one of Carcelle’s key deputies, heading Vuitton’s business in Southeast Asia from 1995 to 1999, ultimately rising to president of LVMH Fashion Group for the Asia-Pacific region.
Taking up the helm at Vuitton will add to an exceptionally heavy workload for Carcelle, who travels relentlessly to oversee LVMH’s far-flung fashion and leather goods properties. But he has installed new managers at Donna Karan, Fendi, Kenzo and Loewe in the past year, preparing him to devote more time to Vuitton.