As his family’s grip on luxury supergroup LMVH deepened today, the world’s richest man, according to Forbes’ rating, made the latest effort to organise his succession.
As part of a management shakeup, luxury goods mogul Bernard Arnault has put his daughter Delphine in charge of Christian Dior, one of the most important brands in his $410 billion conglomerate.
Bernard Arnault, Louis Vuitton’s chairman and CEO, has made several changes to the company’s upper management and appointed a new CEO.
To replace Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke, 65, who is widely credited with turning the luggage and handbag luxury manufacturer into a global powerhouse that accounts for almost two-thirds of LVMH’s annual operating profit, LVMH has appointed Pietro Beccari, who has been at the helm of Dior since 2018.
Beccari, a rising star in his own right, has been instrumental in the meteoric rise of Dior, LVMH’s second largest brand, which has seen annual sales triple to roughly $10.75bn in only four years, propelling the Parisian fashion house into the upper echelons of global luxury brands in terms of sales and growth.
Arnault, 73, is the chief executive, chair, and majority shareholder of the firm, which controls a diverse portfolio of high-end brands such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Givenchy, and Moet Hennessy. The recent management changes are the latest in a sudden burst of planning by Arnault.
Plans for Bernard Arnault’s Succession
Arnault is obviously thinking about who will take over as head of the firm he developed into Europe’s most valuable company.
The eldest of Arnault’s five children, Delphine Arnault, is currently the executive vice president and leader of Louis Vuitton’s product-related activities. Beginning in February, she will be working for Christian Dior in her new role.
The 47-year-old worked for McKinsey for two years after graduating from the London School of Economics and then returning to join the family business in 2000. In 2003, she became the first woman and youngest member of the LVMH board of directors.
At the time of the announcement, Bernard Arnault commented, “Under Delphine’s guidance, the attractiveness of Louis Vuitton items grew dramatically, enabling the brand to frequently establish new sales records.” Her unparalleled knowledge and experience will be invaluable in propelling Christian Dior’s future growth.
With this position, Delphine Arnault returns to the brand where she initially worked in 2001. She began as a footwer and eventually became a deputy general manager, reporting directly to Dior’s then-creative director, John Galliano.
When the French fashion business fired its star designer John Galliano in 2011 after a video clip went public showing him throwing anti-Semitic trash at people in a Paris bar, she was widely recognised with minimising the consequences. Galliano was fined more than $6,000 by a Paris court for his behaviour.
LVMH Makes Management Shifts
Antoine, Alexandre, and Frédéric Arnault, three of Bernard Arnault’s sons, all hold top positions in the company. While in the summer, another significant adjustment was made at the family holding firm Financière Agache, which owns 48% of LVMH, from a governance standpoint.
This made Agache a “société en commandite,” a special type of French company structure used by a select group of family-owned businesses like Hermes and Michelin to shield themselves from takeover.
This action was taken in part to better organise the ownership of the company over the next several decades among the five heirs and their successors, which would promote better internal governance in the family.
Antoine Arnault, Bernard Arnault’s son, was appointed CEO and head of Christian Dior SE last month. Christian Dior SE is a holding company that holds 41% of the capital and 56% of the voting rights in the LVMH group.
Each of his five children has risen through the ranks to become a top executive at the French firm where he formerly worked.
While Arnault’s offspring may have to wait a while before they can take over as CEO, LVMH amended its bylaws last year to allow a chief executive to continue operating the firm until the age of 80, up from the previous threshold of 75.
Despite a slowing global economy and rising uncertainty over the past year, LVMH has seen continuing robust demand for its high-end clothing, handbags, watches, and accessories. Although its stock price fell by around 7% in 2022, that was better than the 10% fall seen by the industry as a whole.
But the company has seen an approximately 11% gain in the first days of 2023, as the reopening of the lucrative Chinese market as harsh Covid-19 limitations are abolished should deliver a timely sales boost from the world’s second-biggest luxury market (after the US).