SOUSSAND TO RUN 3 LVMH UNITS IN THE AMERICAS

Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Philippe Soussand has been named to the new post of president of three LVMH companies in the Americas: Christian Lacroix, Kenzo and Loewe.
Since December 1997, Soussand has been president of Louis Vuitton for Latin America, where he was responsible for managing and significantly expanding the business activities of Louis Vuitton and Loewe in that region.
Soussand, a dual citizen of the U.S. and France, will be based here, but will travel throughout the Americas to manage and build the commercial presence of the businesses. He will continue to report to Thomas J. O’Neill, president of Louis Vuitton Americas.
“It’s an indication that the group has resolve in strengthening the brands. There will be a high executive at the local management,” O’Neill told WWD.
He said previously Kenzo and Loewe were run directly out of Paris and Madrid, respectively. Lacroix, as reported, announced last week it has bought back distribution of its lines from Yves Saint Laurent-owned Paris Collections to directly manage distribution of its products in the U.S. and planned to rely on the infrastructure of LVMH. Paris Collections had been distributing Lacroix since early 1994.
Currently, Kenzo only has a retail operation in the U.S. Loewe only wholesales in the U.S., but has a retail operation in Latin America, and Lacroix has both retail and wholesale operations in the U.S.
“I think each of the brands is in very different situations,” said Soussand, in a phone interview.
In the case of Lacroix, he said, “We sell to stores such as Saks and Neiman Marcus. We want to continue to be successful in those retailers and in the future, open some freestanding stores.
“Kenzo is also a very exciting brand, with a very interesting concept of lifestyle. It’s a very different clientele. There is only a freestanding store on Madison Avenue [in New York] and two on the West Coast. We hope to expand that network of freestanding stores to different parts of the country, such as Texas. A SoHo store is planning to open. We also want to give more presence to the brand in Latin America.”
As for Loewe, he said the line was sold to a number of department stores, but they’ve delayed opening a West Coast freestanding store.
“We’re basically waiting to have the right real estate opportunity,” said Soussand. “The line is doing well at the stores, where it’s present. We’ve had good sell-throughs, although we’ve had some delivery problems.”
Soussand joined LVMH in 1990 as chief financial officer of Christian Dior’s subsidiary in the U.S. In 1994, he became chief financial officer of Louis Vuitton NA.
Soussand will continue to oversee the Louis Vuitton activities in Latin America until his successor is appointed.