LVMH posts record sales for 2017 and bets big on Slimane at Céline

LVMH
Bernard Arnault

Luxury conglomerate LVMH has posted record figures for 2017 with sales up 13% to €42.6m and chairman and chief executive Bernard Arnault told press and analysts the business had high ambitions for its most recent signing of Hedi Slimane at Céline.

The group, whose brands include Louis Vuitton, Dior, Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Loewe and Kenzo, achieved profit from recurring operations of €8.3bn, an increase of 18%. Operating margin reached 19.5%.

LVMH is divided into five principal  trading groups – Wines & Spirits, Fashion & Leather Goods, Perfumes & Cosmetics, Watches & Jewellery and Selective Retailing. All of the groups, the exception of Wines & Spirits, achieved double-digit growth throughout the year.

Fashion & Leather Goods achieved sales of €12.8bn, an organic growth of 13%, while Selective Retailing, which includes luxury department store Le Bon Marché, Sephora and the newly launched multibrand online platform, 24 Sevres, was up 13% at €11.9bn.

In a statement accompanying the numbers Arnault said: “LVMH achieved another record year. The excellent performance, to which all our businesses contributed, is due in part to the buoyant environment but above all to the remarkable creative strength of our brands and their ability to constantly reinvent themselves.

“Continued innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and the quest for excellence: all Maisons continue to assert these core values while maintaining rigorous execution of their strategies on the ground. In an environment that remains uncertain, we can count on the appeal of our brands and the agility of our teams to strengthen, once again in 2018, our leadership in the universe of high quality products,” he added.

In Fashion & Leather Goods the star performer was flagship brand Louis Vuitton, which “continued to demonstrate outstanding creativity across all of its businesses, maintaining a good balance between innovations and the strengthening of its iconic product lines.” New products arising from the collaborations with the artist Jeff Koons as well as the Supreme brand – an initiative led by outgoing menswear artistic director Kim Jones – were among the key events of the year for the brand.

Christian Dior Couture, which was fully integrated into the LVMH group during 2017, also achieved an “excellent performance” while Fendi continued to “grow strongly”. Loro Piana, Loewe, Kenzo and Berluti made “good progress”, and Marc Jacobs “strengthened its product offering and continued its restructuring”. The latter brand’s restructuring includes the closure of a number of its stores, including its London flagship on Mayfair’s Mount Street, it has been reported.

Celine
Hedi Slimane

However the brand in the spotlight was Céline, which last weekend announced that “global superstar” designer Hedi Slimane would be taking the helm as artistic, creative and image director. The move marked a home-coming for Slimane who headed up Dior Homme for LVMH from 2000 to 2007, introducing its signature skinny silhouette which still influences menswear to this day. His last big role was as creative director for Yves Saint Laurent between 2012 and 2016.

Slimane replaces British designer Phoebe Philo, who stands down in March, but his remit is far wider and he has been tasked with extending the Céline brand into menswear, couture and fragrances. Speaking at a press and analyst conference in Paris, Arnault said he believed with Slimane on board Céline could double or even treble sales within the next five years to between €2bn to €3bn in the next five years. “Everything is in place for this brand to achieve quite exceptional growth,” Arnault said.