Louis Vuitton is laying down some more roots in Texas but not in retail.
The French fashion house owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has signed a purchase agreement for an approximately 300 acre ranch located in Alvarado, Tex., an outer suburb of Dallas with a population of roughly 4,000.
A purchase price for the land could not be determined, but a Sotheby’s property listing in the same town is offering 111 acres of land for $832,500.
The land Louis Vuitton picked up is set to become the site of its newest leather goods workshop, the third of its kind in the U.S. The first two are in California.
Bernard Arnault, LVMH’s chairman and chief executive officer, earlier this year said during a meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump that his company was looking to expand its manufacturing presence in the U.S.
While Texas may not be the most obvious choice for a luxury brand so steeped in French culture, Johnson County alone is home to half a dozen cattle farms, and cattle ranching is one of the state’s biggest industries.
With so much cattle around, the brand will have easy access to leather and leather craftspeople and the workshop will produce goods for Louis Vuitton’s growing U.S. market.
But the new workshop, as with those in California, will be operated in the same manner and under full brand control as the 12 operating in France, mostly in the Drome region, and three in Catalonia, Spain.
Construction is set to begin this coming spring with a slated opening of sometime in 2019, when it will start manufacturing Louis Vuitton goods with about 100 employees and build to 500 within five years of opening.
Louis Vuitton has been distributing goods in the U.S. since 1898, about 45 years after it was eponymously founded as a maker of travel trunks with a flat top, an innovation at a time when most trunks were rounded and impossible to stack.
In the decades since, the brand has become one of the most recognizable and successful luxury houses in history and its growth has continued with Nicolas Ghesquière at the creative helm.
For the most recent third quarter, LVMH saw organic sales grow by 13 percent in its fashion and leather goods division, which includes Louis Vuitton, and 12 percent overall, hitting 10.38 billion euros. Sales have grown steadily this year, and the second quarter tallied sales gains of 15 percent.
But Arnault has kept a measured response to the sales success of the luxury operation his family controls and has cautioned against lofty expectations during a time of geopolitical uncertainty.
Louis Vuitton is not immune to these shifts, but it’s a brand with enough power to aid a $1 billion valuation for independent brands and a new factory shows its leather goods are still very much in demand.
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