Danone dairy chief to run Louis Vuitton

City A.M. Reporter
LOUIS Vuitton, the star brand within the world’s biggest luxury group LVMH, yesterday unveiled a succession plan which will see a former Danone executive, Jordi Constans, take the executive reins as of 2013.

Yves Carcelle, 63, chief executive of the French leather goods maker since 1990, will remain on the executive board of LVMH and be in charge of strategic missions for Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH.

“This is of course about an organised succession, not a replacement,” a spokesman for LVMH said yesterday.

Carcelle will also become chairman of the brand’s foundation, which is to open its doors in early 2013.

Louis Vuitton, which generates nearly €6bn (£5.2bn) in annual revenues and contributes more than half of LVMH’s operating profits, said 2012 would be a transition year during which Constans would work alongside Carcelle to learn about the brand and the job.

Constans, 47, originally from Spain, was head of Danone’s fresh dairy products division, the group’s biggest, and a member of its executive board since 2008. He joined Danone in 1990.

The nomination comes as LVMH’s other major brand Dior is in talks with Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director, to replace John Galliano, sources close to the matter have said.

However, this week fashion media reported negotiations between Jacobs and Dior were stalling, partly on money issues. If Jacobs leaves Vuitton, there has been speculation that Phoebe Philo, designer at sister brand Celine, would replace Jacobs at Louis Vuitton.

LVMH shares, which have lost 11.4 per cent since the start of the year, closed up 2.5 per cent at €111.80 yesterday.

In July, LVMH reported a glittering first half, with revenues up 15 per cent to €10.3bn (£9.1bn).

Profits from recurring operations rose 22 per cent from the same time last year to €2.2bn – a reflection of the growing appetite for luxury goods, particularly in emerging markets.