The history of the Louis Vuitton brand and Bernard Arnault


The world’s largest manufacturer of luxury goods, LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton is headed by Bernard Arnault as CEO and Chairman. The world’s most famous department store was founded when Mr. Arnault acquired a majority stake in LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton in 1989. Since that time, Mr. Arnault has been chairman and CEO of the company.

Mr. Arnault is also Chairman of the Board of Groupe Arnault S.E. (his family’s holding company). Bernard Arnault (born 1949) is the head and CEO of LVMH, a fashion investment group. As such, he holds around 50% of the shares in a huge multinational group that currently owns more than 70 of the most valuable brands such as Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Dom Pérignon, Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Sephora and TAG Heuer.

For a CEO in the apparel industry, Arnault’s career path was unusually curious. Initially, he worked for his family’s construction company in the manufacturing north of France as an engineer and real estate developer. Beginning in 1984, he pursued goals far beyond construction, embarking on a series of bold and cunning maneuvers to gain control of a company he could expand worldwide. To accomplish this, he acquired Boussac, a well-known (but insolvent) French conglomerate that enabled him to acquire the House of Dior, a treasure he had long sought. With the proceeds from the sale of most of the other properties, he bought Moët Hennessy and Louis Vuitton, two renowned French brands that merged in 1987 to form LVMH.

The next move Arnault made was a strategic one that earned him recognition throughout Europe. Within LVMH, he took advantage of the ongoing rivalry between the two CEOs to gain control before ousting them both. He became LVMH’s chairman, CEO and largest shareholder after winning “one of the biggest fights in the French fashion world,” a position he would hold until April 2022.

Over the next 30 years, he combined the defunct Boussac properties, particularly Dior, with LVMH products and many other purchased companies to create the most powerful multinational luxury group in the world, with sales of 44.6 billion euros ($51 billion) in 2020. LVMH’s profitability has proven unusually stable during the 30 years under Arnault’s leadership, even in times of severe recession.

After the extraordinary upheaval that the global pandemic brought to luxury retail in 2020, LVMH reported 2021 sales of €64.2 billion (up 44% from 2020 and 20% from 2019) and real profit growth of 36% from 2020 and 14% from 2019.

Although Tiffany, a recent acquisition, closed its main Fifth Avenue store in New York City for renovations, the company still reported “amazing” profitability. According to Forbes, the estimated net worth of Arnault and his family was $159 billion as of October 2022, making him the second richest person in the world and the richest person in Europe.

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