They are the leaders of the two largest groups in the luxury industry, namely Kering and LVMH. They compete, with Gucci and Louis Vuitton respectively, to be the richest and most coveted fashion brand in the world. They autonomously carry out their projects and initiatives about sustainability. Furthermore, they also manage, on their own, their political (and diplomatic) relations. We are talking about François-Henri Pinault and Bernard Arnault, entrepreneurs and captains of industry, who are the top players in the French luxury never-ending derby.
Let us have a look at the top 100 CEOs rankings: among the best ones, currently working, Pinault is placing third, and he is in first place in the luxury segment. Most of all, in the rankings he is outdoing his major historic rival. The Harvard Business Review provided the The 100 CEOs 2019 rankings: as we said, Pinault is leading and he is in higher position than Arnault, who is currently in tenth place (for the records, in 2018 he was on the podium).
A matter of turnover
According to background experts, Kering group’s chief executive officer most dreams of seeing Gucci, his flagship brand, outdo Louis Vuitton in terms of overall revenues. When it comes to this challenge, Arnault is still soundly ahead though. On the one hand, the amazing performance achieved by Alessandro Michele and Marco Bizzarri is progressively scaling down to a normalised growth trend; on the other hand, the LVMH group’s fashion brand keeps developing its own creative and industrial strategies (especially in Italy).
Friendly dislike between Pinault and Arnault also affects their programmatic choices and decisions. Speaking about sustainability, for example, Kering group have been promoting the Fashion Pact: 56 groups, 250 brands, have joined the project. Prada, Armani and CHANEL, among others. Conversely, LVMH are going on with their LIFE program.
While focusing on sustainability, discord upon projects also mirrors their mutual rivalry as to diplomatic relations. As we said, Pinault has implemented his Fashion Pact, in agreement with French government and President Macron; in contrast, Arnault looks more willingly at relations overseas. His open agreement with US President Donald Trump, which he made public during the inauguration of a Louis Vuitton leather goods factory in Texas, caused disapproval, to some extent, in his group as well. Yet, Kering and LVMH are playing a derby match: when you play a derby, all moves are okay.
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