LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury products group, announced record sales of 42.6 billion Euros in 2017, up 13% over the previous year, as all divisions turned in strong performances. Its net profit popped 29%.
The news sent LVMH‘s stock up 5% on Friday. The biggest beneficiary of the announcement is LVMH’s longtime chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault, who owns more than 5% of LVMH’s stock. His fortune jumped $3.5 billion in just hours and was at $77.9 billion by noon on Friday.
He is now the fifth richest person on the planet, up from number 11 last March when FORBES published our annual rankings of the World’s Billionaires. Since the list’s publication, his fortune has climbed more than $36 billion, helping him move ahead of Michael Bloomberg, Charles and David Koch, Larry Ellison and Carlos Slim. Today, he leaps ahead of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
“The excellent performance, to which all our businesses contributed, is due in part to the buoyant environment but above all to the remarkable creative strength of our brands and their ability to constantly reinvent themselves,” said Arnault, in a released statement. “Continued innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and the quest for excellence: all Maisons continue to assert these core values while maintaining rigorous execution of their strategies on the ground.”
The multi-billion dollar morning for Arnault is another chapter in what is turning out to be one of his best years yet.
In April 2017, Arnault and his family announced a $13 billion deal to acquire Christian Dior and fold the fashion brand into LVMH. The move ends years of a convoluted, complicated cross holding structure between the two companies. The share price of Dior, in which Arnault now has a 97% stake and which represents the bulk of his fortune, has climbed nearly 38% since April and popped almost 5% on Friday.
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One of the world’s ultimate taste-makers, Arnault first got into the luxury goods business in 1984 when he bought Christian Dior. He has run LVMH, which owns 70 brands including Dom Perignon, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Sephora and Tag Heuer, since 1989.