The news needs two different and subsequent interpretations. Let us look at the news story, to begin with. Louis Vuitton started the construction works to open a new leather goods factory in the municipality of Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule (situated in the department of Allier, in the region of Auvergne Rhône-Alpes). The plant, which will extend across 6,000 square metres and will have a restaurant and a parking annexed to it, is due to come to completion by the end of the year. As reported by lamontagne.fr, 250 employees will work over there: for the time being, 148 candidates, out of 230, have already passed a skill test, while 62 have been hired. The fashion brand, which belongs to LVMH group, whose financial investment amounts to 10 million euros, expects the factory to be running at full speed in 2020.
The small district
The first interpretation is about strategies set by Louis Vuitton, which will shortly increase their own workers, in a small town where just 6,000 people reside, up to around 1,000 salaried employees. In fact, the forthcoming leather goods factory is going to be the third one, for the luxury fashion house, to be based in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule. As summarized by France Bleu, LV first focused their attention on the department of Allier at the end of the eighties, when the top managers of the fashion brand realized they could seize the opportunity to hire workers formerly employed in a shoe factory run by Bally. In other words, they saw there were many people into the leather manufacturing; the municipality of Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule is now planning to open a technical education centre that might ideally liaise with the training programmes implemented by the fashion brand.
The French model
In contrast, the second interpretation is about the quick actions French manufacturing is currently taking. All of the luxury top brands have made a number of production investments: among others, Longchamp and Hermès, as well as their French suppliers, namely Maroquinerie Thomas. Driven by manufacturing innovation, training and education courses are increasing considerably, in line with a mid-term trend that is already modifying the role of French leather industry in the international scenario. Yet, French luxury is not just painstakingly planning to reinforce domestic and national manufacturing to the detriment of supply coming from third parties abroad. In fact, they are moving even forward: 13 months ago, Axel Dumas, Hermès chief executive officer, made public his strong envy about Italy’s districts model, which is the real core of Italian high-end manufacturing. Therefore, actions taken by Hermès, as well as the ones by Louis Vuitton, clearly show that French top brands are also striving hard to fill the current gap.
Screenshot from lamontagne.fr