Sunday 8 December 2019

Perfect marriage: Arnault adds $16.2bn jeweller Tiffany to his luxury goods stable

Thomas Mulier and Geraldine Amiel

France's richest man is adding the biggest jewel yet to his collection as Bernard Arnault clinched a deal to buy Tiffany for $16.2bn (€14.7bn).

If history is any guide, the LVMH chairman will move quickly to apply his tried-and-tested formula for growth to the tarnished US brand - expanding its presence across the world, especially in Asian markets, while boosting exclusivity and prices.

It is a difficult balance but one Arnault has been honing over three decades as he assembled a stable of luxury labels ranging from Louis Vuitton bags to Dom Perignon Champagne to Bulgari jewellery. While he has had a few mis-steps, including purchases of Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs, LVMH has grown into the industry's dominant player, with a market value of €203bn. Arnault's personal fortune has swelled to nearly half that.

"We will get our inspiration from our experience with Bulgari," Arnault said. "We modernised and expanded their product lines. We reviewed their look. We reviewed communications."

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Tiffany, a 182-year-old US jeweller known for its robin's egg blue boxes and a role in Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's, is a cultural icon in the US, but its reliance on that market and struggles of late have undermined its appeal.

Tiffany's operating margin of 17pc is about half the level of LVMH rival Richemont's jewellery business, which includes Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels.

Arnault signalled he is already looking at next steps for Tiffany after sealing a deal over the weekend and announcing it yesterday morning.


Irish Independent

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