Brands | Fashion Updates

People of Fashion: Wolf in Cashmere

Published: April 6, 2023
Author: Fashion Value Chain

Bernard Arnault is a French billionaire and the current Chairman and CEO of the multinational luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH. He was born on March 5, 1949, in Roubaix, France to a family with a background in construction and luxury goods sales. Arnault’s business acumen and hands-on management style are widely recognized, and he has been credited with identifying and acquiring successful luxury brands.

Arnault’s journey of acquiring Dior and LV began in the 1980s when he acquired the fashion house of Christian Dior with the help of his father’s real estate company. In 1985, he became the CEO of the company and started transforming it into a global luxury brand. He also acquired other luxury brands like Céline, Loewe, and Kenzo, and merged them under the holding company, LVMH.

Under Arnault’s leadership, LVMH grew into a multinational corporation with over 70 brands of fashion, cosmetics, and luxury drinks. Louis Vuitton, one of the most famous brands under LVMH, became the world’s most valuable luxury brand under Arnault’s leadership. In 2021, LVMH acquired the American jeweler, Tiffany & Co, for $15.8 billion.

Arnault has also been known for his succession planning, which involves grooming his children to take over his empire. In 2017, he appointed his daughter, Delphine Arnault, as the Executive Vice President of Louis Vuitton, and in 2022, she became the CEO of Christian Dior. Arnault’s son, Antoine, is also involved in the family business and is the CEO of Berluti and Chairman of Loro Piana.

Bernard Arnault is referred to as the “wolf in cashmere” due to his reputation as a tough and aggressive businessman in the luxury goods industry. Arnault’s nickname is a reference to his calculated and sometimes ruthless approach to acquisitions and takeovers, which has been compared to the behavior of a predatory wolf.

Arnault’s reputation as a fierce businessman dates back to the 1980s when he took over struggling textile company Boussac and turned it around with a series of layoffs and restructuring. He later founded LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) with the goal of creating a luxury goods empire, which he achieved through a series of acquisitions of well-known brands. Arnault’s approach to these acquisitions has been characterized as aggressive and predatory, earning him the nickname ‘wolf in cashmere’.

Despite his reputation, some companies have successfully resisted Arnault’s takeover attempts, including the Hermes dynasty. Arnault is acutely aware of the vulnerabilities that divisions can cause, and his calculated moves have allowed him to achieve success in several takeover battles.

As of February 2023, Arnault has a net worth of around $220 billion, making him the richest person in the world. He is known for his luxurious lifestyle and has a 12-bedroom mansion worth over Rs. 1648 crore. He also has a very smart family around him and is putting them in positions to progress and be more relevant to the business.

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