Chris de Lapuente

Bulking up management in its selective retailing division, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has named Chris de Lapuente the branch’s chairman and chief executive officer, effective in January.

A rising star in the French luxury group, best known for leading Sephora to new heights over a 10-year tenure, de Lapuente expanded his purview in recent years to also oversee Le Bon Marché group, as well as some perfume and cosmetics activities.

LVMH had hinted in September that de Lapuente would take on additional responsibilities when Starbucks executive Martin Brok succeeded him at the management helm of Sephora.

De Lapuente’s scope will now also include DFS, Starboard & Onboard — which operates retail on cruise shops — and 24S, LVMH’s online fashion site. Benjamin Vuchot, the new chairman and ceo of DFS; Lisa Bauer, chairman and ceo of Starboard & Onboard, and Eric Goguey, chairman and ceo of 24S, will report to him.

De Lapuente also remains a member of LVMH’s executive committee. He reports to Antonio Belloni, group managing director.

“I am delighted to have Chris enlarge his responsibilities,” Bernard Arnault, chairman and ceo of LVMH, said in an internal announcement seen by WWD. “Since he joined the group some ten years ago, he has shown tremendous leadership and an exceptional ability to deliver excellent results and develop organizations.

“His most striking success has been Sephora, which he has been turned into a global leader in prestige beauty retailing, recognized around the world as one of the most innovative brands in products and services, both in-store and online. He has also achieved remarkable success in growing new beauty brands with great potential, notably Fenty Beauty,” Arnault added.

Under de Lapuente, sales and profits at Sephora tripled, and he bolstered its omnichannel presence.

Among his chief challenges in his new role will be DFS, hard hit by global travel disruptions from the pandemic. Organic sales in LVMH’s selective retailing division were down by 31 percent in the first nine months of the year to 7.18 billion euros.

While trumpeting “good resilience” at Sephora in reporting its third-quarter results last month, LVMH noted that “DFS saw a significant decline in its activity in most destinations as a result of the suspension of international travel, which is showing no signs of improving.”

DFS’ two main markets were affected to varying degrees, with Hong Kong heavily hit while store closures in Macau lasted only two weeks in the first half. DFS has been increasing digital marketing efforts, including a partnership with WeChat.

In an interview on Monday, Belloni touted commonalities across LVMH’s selective retail activities: all multibrand platforms with a global footprint, and many with a good concentration of beauty products.

“Chris will be working on the future, in strategic opportunities that there are for distribution,” Belloni said, acknowledging that travel retail, along with hospitality, were the LVMH businesses most affected by the coronavirus crisis. “The companies that will win will be the ones that are adapting to be sure that they are desirable and responding to the customer needs of tomorrow.”

While the retailers under de Lapuente’s purview are different, they share “some critical elements of culture” and LVMH’s “economy of knowledge” flows freely between them, Belloni explained. This allows for a “cross pollination of learnings” and mobility of executives “so we can transfer the lessons that we learn in one place to the next one.”

He noted, for example, that Vuchot,soon arriving at the helm of DFS, comes from Sephora in Asia, where, under de Lapuente, he gained a keen understanding of the digital innovation need to meet the evolving expectations of consumers.

Before joining Sephora, de Lapuente worked at Procter & Gamble, starting in 1983. From 2007 to 2010, he held the position of group president for global hair care.

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