LVMH is the abbreviation for the French luxury goods group Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy SA. This group is considered the largest luxury goods conglomerate worldwide. The Chairman of the Board and, and majority shareholder with 60% equity, is Bernard Arnault.
The core business areas of the company are wine and spirits (20%), fashion and leather goods (34%), perfume and cosmetics (16%), Selective Retailing (duty-free shops, 25%) as well as watches and jewelery (5%). Examples of well-known brands are Christian Dior (Perfume), Louis Vuitton (leather), Zenith (watches), TAG Heuer (watches), Chaumet (jewelery), Dom Pérignon, Moët & Chandon (champagne). The most important markets for LVMH are the U.S., followed by France and Japan.
LVMH was formed in 1987 when Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy were combined. It was the world's largest producer of luxury goods and was controlled by Bernard Arnault under his Arnault Group after a hostile takeover in 1988. In 1995, Arnault purchased Paris-based jewelry company, Fred, as well as Benedom, owner of Favre-Leuba and producer of Dior and Céline watches. Arnault had purchased Dior in 1984 and brought it to LVMH in 1987. LVMH attempted by purchase Gucci, acquiring 34% of the company's shares between 1995 and 1999, but rival PPR acquired that Italian fashion house instead.
LVMH continued to grow, with major acquisitions made in 1999. First was French jewelry company Chaumet, but it was the rapid acquisition of TAG Heuer (for CHF 1.2 billion) and Zenith that brought LVMH to prominence in the watchmaking world. Ebel was also acquired with Chaumet, and LVMH took over that company's “Private Label Development” (“PLD”) arm in La Chaux-de-Fonds, renaming it Les Ateliers Horlogers and focusing it on high-end watch development for Dior.
LVMH sold the Favre-Leuba brand to Valentin in March, 2003. Favre-Leuba is today owned by Titan, part of the Tata Group of India. Ebel was then sold to Movado Group in 2003 for just US$47.3 million. At this time, it was widely rumored that LVMH would exit the luxury watch business entirely.
This changed in April 2008, when LVMH took over Hublot for an estimated CHF 490 million. That company had been “resurrected” by Jean-Claude Biver, who inspired a major drive upscale for LVMH. The group began consolidating Swiss watchmaking expertise, investing in its brands, and launching high-end pieces in its jewelry brands. The Louis Vuitton brand, launched in 2002, began developing high-end complications and watchmaking expertise at that time focused on the La Chaux-de-Fonds operations, now called “Ateliers Louis Vuitton”. Hublot purchased the assets of bankrupt BNB Concept in 2010, and Louis Vuitton followed, acquiring the successor company La Fabrique du Temps the next year. LVMH next acquired Bulgari in 2011. Like Hublot, Louis Vuitton created an in-house haute horology operation, La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, in 2014.
In 2019, LVMH announced that it would acquire the famous Tiffany company, reinforcing the group's retail and jewelry operations, especially in the United States market. This has lead to speculation that an acquisition of long-time Tiffany partner Patek Philippe is also in the works. The deal fell apart in 2020 but was re-initiated at a lower price later that year and completed on January 7, 2021.
As of 2010, LVMH has many high-end watchmaking operations. TAG Heuer has been refocused on lower levels of the luxury watch market, with Zenith, Hublot, Bulgari, and Louis Vuitton each operating as a maison and Tiffany operating independently and focusing on Jewelry.