PARIS — Chanel, the privately held company owned by the secretive Wertheimer brothers, on Thursday broke with a century-old tradition by publishing its consolidated financial results for the first time.
The maker of quilted handbags and No. 5 perfume recorded sales of $9.6 billion in 2017, up 11 percent year-on-year in constant currency terms, placing it shoulder-to-shoulder with Louis Vuitton, commonly considered the world’s biggest luxury brand. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the French conglomerate that owns Vuitton, does not break out figures for its fashion brands.
Chanel said it recorded an after-tax profit of $1.8 billion, up 18.6 percent, while investment in “brand support activities” was up 15 percent from the prior year to $1.5 billion.
“Chanel Limited’s accounts confirm the strength of the Chanel brand, the result of the company’s long-term strategy which has creativity at the heart of its business model. This enables Chanel to create social and economic value and to ensure that Chanel remains one of the most desired brands globally,” the house said.
It added that its long-term strategy was underpinned by a strong balance sheet, with net debt of $18 million and free cash flow of $1.6 billion.
“Our financial strength gives us the means to remain independent and to focus on the long term. We continue to create and invest to ensure that Chanel remains one of the most iconic and innovative brands in the world,” Philippe Blondiaux, global chief financial officer, said in a statement.
Among the stores opened in 2017 was a flagship in Tokyo’s Ginza district. The company also revealed major investment in manufacturing and distribution facilities, including a new site in the north of Paris designed by award-winning architect Rudy Ricciotti that will bring most of its specialty ateliers under one roof.
In addition, Fondation Chanel plans to invest more than $120 million over the next five years in advancing the role of women in society.