Nicholas Kirkwood to part ways from LVMH and take back ownership

LVMH and British luxury footwear designer Nicholas Kirkwood have parted ways with the designer taking back control of his brand.

The split follows a seven year partnership between the British designer and the French luxury group. LVMH said it would still be supporting Kirkwood through the rest of the year to ensure a smooth transition.

Until now, the luxury conglomerate had only ever sold two brands: Christian Lacroix in 2005, and Donna Karan International in 2016. The news of the split follows after a more major break at LVMH as on Wednesday the group called off its planned $16 billion takeover of Tiffany & Co. The deal, agreed last November, was set to be the biggest ever luxury acquisition.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Kirkwood only accounts for a small slice of sales within LVMH’s €22.2 billion fashion division, which is powered by major luxury designers such as Louis Vuitton and Dior. However the pandemic, has resulted in fashion brands both big and small struggling to stay afloat, placing pressure on the luxury conglomerate to streamline its portfolio.

Furthermore, Nicholas Kirkwood has not been amongst the better performing brands in LVMH’s portfolio as a UK filing showed the brand has been struggling from widening losses.

In 2019, turnover was down 28% from the year previous at £8.14 million according to a report published to Companies’ House on 7 August. That same year the company suffered an operating loss of £3.3 million an increase on losses of £2.46 million in 2018.

In 2005, Nicholas Kirkwood launched his namesake label with co-founder Christopher Suarez, who was the brand’s CEO until he left the business in 2015.

The luxury footwear brand rapidly gained attention from press and buyers attracted to Kirkwood’s signature sculptural high heels. The brand also became the first accessories designer to win the British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund award.

Soon after, the brand caught the attention of LVMH, which bought an undisclosed majority stake in the company in September 2013.

Currently, Nicholas Kirkwood shoes retail between £400 and £1,000 and is stocked at leading global luxury e-tailers including Matchesfashion and Net-a-Porter, as well as luxury department stores like Harrods, Galeries Lafayette and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Recently, the label has focused on limiting its reliance on wholesale retailers, aiming to boost its own direct-to-consumer sales by forming a partnership with luxury marketplace Farfetch and re-launching its own e-commerce website in September 2019.

The brand also has a flagship retail store, located in London’s Mayfair.