PARIS — Surveying a packed auditorium at the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton headquarters in Paris, Bernard Arnault expressed a preference for the audience assembled — artisans — to the usual crowd of financial analysts.
“I am very happy today to be among artisans because the success of the company that I have had the pleasure of managing for a number of years now is based on know-how,” said the LVMH chairman and chief executive officer. Besides, questions from analysts can be annoying, and even useless at times, he joked.
Kicking off the fifth edition of the luxury giant’s Institut des Métiers d’Excellence, a vocational training program that started in France and has been extended to Switzerland and Italy, the executive plucked a 17th-century example of a well-known artisan associated with one of the luxury labels in his company’s vast stable of brands.
“One of the best known was Dom Pérignon, a monk, but also an artisan, who created Champagne. With success today, thanks to his talent, it’s without a doubt the leader in Champagne in the world,” he said.
Founded in 2014, the program has grown from around 20 students in its first edition to 300 this year, offering around 20 different training schemes. It also includes efforts to introduce various forms of craftsmanship to potential artisans from Clichy-sous-Bois, a working class suburb in the Paris region. Work and study apprenticeships are offered in partnership with schools in jewelry, dressmaking, wine-making, leather goods and retail design. Schools include the Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris 3, the jewelry school École de la Bijouterie-Joaillerie de Paris, the fashion-focused Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and Les Compagnons du Devoir and Polimoda for leather goods.
In the annual ceremony, LVMH executives handed certificates of excellence to individuals ranking highly in a range of activities, including leather goods production, client management and jewelry-making.
Following the event, human resources director Chantal Gaemperle reflected on how the program has evolved.
“What hasn’t changed is our determination — and the vision. I think we have had the same since the beginning, what changed is the number and the type of métiers that we can offer training in, the number of schools with which we work, the number of countries,” she said.
“What does this bring? The fact we have more, notably in terms of student numbers, it creates even more possibilities to build bridges, to create contact and to learn,” she said. The company is eyeing Spain among other countries as it looks to extend the program geographically, in addition to bringing in more schools, she added.
The program includes introducing teams working in the same activity to their counterparts in another country.
“In jewelry, for example, we had the French team go and visit the Italian team, and they studied each other’s languages — this forges a friendship,” she said.
To have a network, a community that one can turn to is very motivating for young people and this is part of training — we learn from others,” Gaemperle added.
Asked about the biggest challenges for such a program, she spoke of widening its reach.
“The biggest difficulty is introducing the métiers to young people. Young people from Clichy-sous-Bois won’t necessarily think tomorrow they could work for Louis Vuitton or even less, Chaumet on Place Vendôme, so the challenge was to go tell them, look, there are métiers — dare to dream, and we are ready to hold out our hands and if you are motivated and want to learn, we can partner up,” she said. “Expanding the territory from which we recruit by giving them confidence, that’s a big part of our work.”
The program boasts an 80 percent placement rate, with 60 percent of graduates finding jobs at LVMH or outside partners.