PARIS — The world’s biggest luxury brand, Louis Vuitton, is about to get even bigger, said Rogerio Fujimori, analyst with RBC Europe Ltd., flagging his expectations for future market share gains from the house, after spending two days on a field trip with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton executives.
Analysts met with Jean-Jacques Guiony, LVMH chief financial officer, and Louis Vuitton chief executive officer Michael Burke for a trip focused on leather goods’ manufacturing strategy and operations, he said in an e-mail to clients Thursday titled “Built to Last.”
RBC is happy with its outperform rating on the company’s shares, he added, citing the likelihood that gains in market share by Louis Vuitton will continue. The label’s vertically integrated model, with manufacturing working with the supply chain and retail sides of the business, is the ticket to “agility and flexibility” to deal with fast-moving trends, RBC said, citing a successful brand repositioning around six years ago with an increasing assortment of more complex products, added production sites and more flexibility in production.
Analysts visited leather workshops in Sainte-Florence in France, the brand’s historic site in Asnieres France and its Place Vendôme flagship.
During a question-and-answer session with Burke, analysts learned that Louis Vuitton has a “healthy clientele” in the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea, and is growing across categories, with watches and jewelry showing the best long-term potential given its smaller scale compared to other products. The goal is for the category to reach 1 billion euros in sales in order to ensure the label’s positioning as a “relevant player in hard luxury,” although no time frame has been set, he said.
Guiony, meanwhile, told analysts that improvement in sales per square meter and a better product mix have been driving the label’s margin improvement over the last six to seven years. Other fashion and leather goods labels are reining in business through physical, wholesale channels, he added, to reduce gray market activity. Bulgari, too, has been revisiting its wholesale distribution for perfumes, cosmetics and jewelry, with the “self-inflicted wholesale clean-up” reducing its growth rate by a third, Fujimori said.
RBC earlier this week in a research note highlighted LVMH’s leadership on the digital front, client relationship management, e-commerce and data science, adding the group to its list of eight global companies in its so-called “Imagine 2025” portfolio. Analysts included an interview with the LVMH group’s digital officer Ian Rogers in the report, noting the executive has defined how it uses digital tools. The company’s investment firepower will enable it to modernize IT systems, the analysts noted.