In the words of one Flavor-Flav, LVMH Chairman and CEO
Bernard Arnault "knows what time it is."
Remember when the luxury house's head honcho (pictured, right), whom we've always thought was like a lost member of the Rat Pack, said this, a while back?
"I believe that [the recession's] consequences on LVMH will be limited, weak, or even non-existent. In fact, the clientele that we are dealing with is far less affected than the rest of the economy by these short-term economic swings. They have high purchasing power, located in a number of countries where the economic climate will be bouyant, even if there's a minor recession in the U.S."
Well, he wasn't just puffing his sails. First quarter revenue reports show that, with the sole exception of the wine and spirits group, all divisions of LVMH are up.
Fashion and leather goods grew 7%, led by the strength of Louis Vuitton, which received its own TV commercial this quarter, in addition to recently inking a deal to have Rolling Stones' guitarist (and, we think, animatronic wax doll) Keith Richards star in its current print campaign. On the product front, the company said that the collaboration between Marc Jacobs and Richard Prince (the artist of "Let's not and say we did, XOXO, Jennifer Aniston" fame) was particularly successful. Meanwhile, perfumes and cosmetics grew 8%, attributed to the continued momentum of the Christian Dior brand offerings, as well as the new Midnight Poison fragrance and Addict High Shine lipstick.
But the real winner of the quarter was the watches and jewelry group , which posted 12% revenue gains over the year-earlier period. Strength came from brands including TAG Heuer, Zenith and the Christal collection from Dior. The company added that Chaumet and De Beers also continued their retail expansion plans and increased revenues. New watches previewed at Art Basel in Switzerland have reportedly attracted "large increases in orders" from retailers.
And the bottom kicker of the sales release seems to only confirm what Arnault had promised earlier:
"LVMH will continue its growth in 2008 despite the challenging monetary environment and an uncertain economic climate at the beginning of this year. Increasing market share and the profitability of its leading brands as well as improving the results of its developing companies remain LVMH top priorities."
If they can keep these numbers up, or better yet, best them, then we think it's fair to say that the strategy we outlined a while back, that of weathering the recession by only appealing to the top end clientele, has indeed proved not only stable, but a money maker for LVMH.