Signaling its ambitions in luxury experiences, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has appointed a dynamic, much admired executive to lead its hospitality division.
Stéphane Rinderknech, most recently president and chief executive officer of L’Oréal USA and a 20-year veteran of the French beauty giant, has been named chairman and CEO of LVMH Hospitality Excellence, effective June 6, WWD has learned. Rinderknech also becomes a member of LVMH’s executive committee.
The appointment confirms a WWD report on April 28 flagging Rinderknech as the likely successor to Andrea Guerra, who is exiting the role at the end of May to “pursue other interests.” Guerra will then become a strategic and development senior adviser to the French conglomerate, as reported.
LVMH made a step change in hospitality in 2018 with its surprise $2.6 billion acquisition of Belmond, prized for its fleet of marquee properties in a range of standout destinations.
LVMH Hospitality Excellence now comprises Hôtels Cheval Blanc and Belmond Hotels and Trains, which together count more than 50 luxury hotel, restaurant, train and river cruise properties. Among the marquee properties are the Cipriani in Venice, the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, the Mount Nelson in Capetown and the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Train.
The group’s fashion and leather goods brands have also been stepping further into experiences, with Louis Vuitton adding eateries and a chocolate shop to new flagships in Japan, while Dior’s supercharged Avenue Montaigne boutique now incorporates a restaurant, cafe, museum and hotel suite.
When La Samaritaine reopened last June after a long renovation, the landmark department store debuted a clutch of new restaurants and a Hôtel Cheval Blanc that is said to be enjoying occupancy rates in excess of 90 percent, despite the lack of Chinese tourists in the French capital. Reservations at its restaurants Le Tout-Paris and Langosteria are difficult to come by.
“High-end hospitality represents a great opportunity for our group,” Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH Group, said in an internal announcement seen by WWD.
The luxury titan trumpeted that Rinderknech “has demonstrated a remarkable ability to deliver impressive performances, to develop organizations and to bring out the best in talented people” throughout his career.
“His appetite to learn and constantly evolve, coupled with his agility and passion for new challenges, constitute compelling assets to lead our exceptional properties and destinations to a next level of development,” Arnault added.
In the wake of the appointment, Olivier Lefebvre, CEO of Hôtels Cheval Blanc, and Roeland Vos, chairman and CEO of Belmond Hotels & Trains, will report to Rinderknech.
“I am thrilled to join the LVMH Group and to take the lead of its Hospitality Excellence division,” Rinderknech commented in the announcement. “During my many years living abroad, I have developed a deep passion for the art of hospitality and its variations around the world.
“With their unique properties and heritages, Cheval Blanc and Belmond are ideally positioned to meet customers’ expectations for authentic luxury experiences,” he added.
A graduate of ISG Business School in Paris, Rinderknech began his career in 2002 with the American travel retail division of L’Oréal, accruing additional responsibilities when he took on positions in Japan and South Korea.
He moved to China in 2011, first as general manager of L’Oréal’s Luxe Division, then as head of the Consumer Products Division before being promoted to president and CEO of L’Oréal China for all divisions and corporate operations.
Rinderknech became a member of L’Oréal’s executive committee in 2018 and a year later assumed the management helm of L’Oréal USA.
Hailed as a rising star and viable candidate to be CEO of L’Oréal’s global operations one day, he was responsible for increasing the company’s China business by 30 percent during his time as CEO of that division. His strength in digital marketing — e-commerce accounted for 40 percent of L’Oréal’s sales in the country when he left — was a key driver behind his appointment in the U.S., where he was charged with accelerating L’Oréal’s digital transformation.
While LVMH is known for growing and grooming executive talent from within, it has recruited a number of high-profile L’Oréal executives in recent years, including Damien Bertrand, now CEO of Loro Piana, and Pierre-Emmanuel Angeloglou, strategic missions director for fashion and leather goods at Louis Vuitton.