CHRISTIAN LACROIX SEEN NAMING MARX PRESIDENT

Byline: Katherine Weisman

PARIS — Is there another shakeup looming at LVMH?
Sources close to the luxury group say that Serge Marx, president of Bally France, is likely to replace Robert Bensoussan-Torres as president of Christian Lacroix, effective Nov. 1.
It is unclear if Bensoussan will pursue another post within LVMH or if he will leave the group. Bensoussan was traveling and unavailable for comment.
Marx declined to comment on the information. LVMH executives could not be reached.
Speculation over the status of various executives at LVMH has become something of a sport in Paris, and rumors about Bensoussan leaving Lacroix have been circulating for years.
He has been the head of Lacroix since February 1993, a longer run than his predecessors. Prior to Bensoussan’s appointment, the house had been churning through about one president a year following its 1987 founding.
It’s no secret that Lacroix’s lack of profitability has been a sore point for LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault.
But Bensoussan has led the Lacroix label’s expansion into new areas, including the Bazar secondary line, the Jeans collection and linens and tabletop. In addition, Bensoussan was behind the opening of 30 freestanding Lacroix stores, both franchised and wholly owned.
The house is also on the verge of launching a new women’s fragrance with sister company Guerlain.
According to the LVMH 1996 annual report, sales of the house were up significantly last year, compared to 1995, and Lacroix store sales increased 20 percent. Actual figures were undisclosed but Lacroix’s volume is estimated to be around $80 million. This year, sources said, sales are growing and losses have been trimmed.

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