French billionaire Arnault names daughter Delphine as Dior chief

French billionaire Bernard Arnault announced that his daughter Delphine would head his LVMH luxury empire's Dior fashion house in a leadership shuffle also featuring a new CEO at flagship brand Louis Vuitton.
The shake-up at LVMH's two leading brands came as Arnault has seen his wealth soar to new heights, overtaking Tesla and Twitter chief Elon Musk as the world's top billionaire late last year.

Bernard Arnault said the appointment of Delphine, a top executive at Louis Vuitton, as head of Christian Dior Couture is the "continuation of a career of excellence in fashion and leather goods."

Under her direction, Louis Vuitton was able to "fly from record to record" and her "sharp eye and incomparable experience will be decisive assets in the continued development of Christian Dior," Arnault said in a statement.

Chairman and CEO of Christian Dior Couture Pietro Beccari poses after an AFP interview at the Plaza de Espana in Seville. File / AFP

She will succeed Pietro Beccari, who will replace Michael Burke as head of Louis Vuitton, the world's leading luxury brand in terms of sales, famous for its handbags bedecked with the initials "LV."

Bernard Arnault praised Beccari for his "exceptional work" as head of Dior over the past five years. "Nobody doubts that he will lead Louis Vuitton towards even greater desirability and success," he said.

Arnault also congratulated Burke for his "great job" during 10 years at the helm of Vuitton, which helped to "widen the gap with our competition." Burke will take up a new position alongside Bernard Arnault.

Arnaud Cadart, portfolio manager at the Paris-based asset management firm Flornoy, said the appointments of Beccari and Delphine Arnault were "clear signs of trust" and a "desire to keep a balance between outside people and Arnault family members."

Beccari, who joined LVMH in 2006, is taking over a "strategic house" while Delphine Arnault is heading "another jewel of the group", Cadart said. Delphine Arnault has "proven herself by doing a big and good job at Vuitton", he said, calling the move a "major appointment." The management changes will be effective on Feb.1, 2023.

Family affair

Arnault, 73, overtook Musk on the Forbes and Bloomberg lists of the world's top billionaires late last year, with Forbes putting the clan's net worth at $200 billion. Arnault's five children all have top jobs at LVMH.

Delphine Arnault has been executive vice president at Louis Vuitton since 2013, supervising the brand's product-related activities. Previously, she served as deputy managing director at Christian Dior Couture.

His eldest son, Antoine Arnault, was named CEO of holding company Christian Dior SE, which controls LVMH, in December, and also holds other positions within the group.

Alexandre Arnault is an executive vice president at jewelry brand Tiffany, while his brother Frederic is CEO of watchmaker Tag Heuer.  Another son, Jean Arnault, is director of watch development and marketing at Louis Vuitton.

'Positive' changes

LVMH boasts more than 75 brands, including fashion firm Kenzo and champagne maker Moet & Chandon. The group reported a net profit of 6.5 billion euros ($7 billion) for the first half of 2022, a 23 percent jump from record earnings in the period a year earlier, on sales that rose 28 percent to 36.7 billion euros.

Full-year results for 2022 will be published in the coming weeks but are expected to show growth after generating 64 billion euros in sales in 2021, up by 20 billion euros from the previous year. Louis Vuitton alone is expected to have made more than 22 billion euros in sales last year, according to analysts at Bernstein research firm.

In a note, analysts at RBC Capital Markets said the reshuffle was "positive for both the Louis Vuitton and Dior brands" and it "also reflects ongoing leadership transition within the Arnault family."

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