All Change at LVMH: Pietro Beccari Heads to Vuitton, Delphine Arnault Named CEO of Dior

“We see no clouds on the LVMH horizon,” a sanguine Luca Solca, senior research analyst, global luxury goods at Bernstein, opined on Wednesday after leadership changes shook the top of Louis Vuitton and Dior, the French luxury group’s flagship fashion houses.

Echoing other observers, Solca characterized the appointment of Dior head Pietro Beccari as chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton as “very good news,” and Delphine Arnault’s ascension as Beccari’s successor as “a step forward for her.”

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“We believe this is just what LV needed, in order to open a new growth chapter,” Solca added.

HSBC analyst Erwan Rambourg, global head of consumer and retail research, lauded Arnault’s “great track record on product at Louis Vuitton” and her history at Dior “so the move seems logical.”

The dynamo behind Dior’s stupendous growth trajectory since 2018, Beccari is to succeed Michael Burke, 66, who is bowing out of Vuitton after a stellar 10-year tenure to “take up new responsibilities, reporting directly to Bernard Arnault,” LVMH said.

Arnault is chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and also head of Financière Agache, the main family holding company.

In addition, Charles Delapalme, executive vice president of Christian Dior Couture in charge of commercial activities since 2018, has been elevated to managing director of Christian Dior Couture.

Finally, LVMH said it would further widen the purview of Stéphane Bianchi, chairman and CEO of the watches and jewelry division, to include Tiffany & Co. and Repossi.

All the changes are effective Feb. 1, and the management shuffle at LVMH could trigger other creative and executive shifts at the vast conglomerate, whose fashion holdings include Fendi, Givenchy, Loewe and Celine, among others.

For starters, Beccari will need to fill Delphine Arnault’s position. She was second-in-command to Burke.

Wednesday’s announcement caps off a flurry of major personnel changes at some of Europe’s largest luxury players in recent months, with Gucci parting ways with its star creative director Alessandro Michele, and Prada bringing on former LVMH executive Andrea Guerra to succeed Patrizio Bertelli as CEO.

It marks a homecoming for Delphine Arnault, who was Dior’s deputy general manager from 2008 until 2013, when she moved over to Vuitton. Arnault, the eldest of Bernard Arnault’s five children, arrived at a time when Burke had initiated an upscaling drive at Vuitton and could leverage her expertise in accessories and high-end leather goods.

It also significantly raises the profile of Arnault, who takes on her first CEO role at one of the most visible and treasured fashion houses in the LVMH empire. Until now, Arnault has been largely a behind-the-scenes power player in her role as Vuitton’s executive vice president in charge of supervising all of its product-related activities.

For example, she orchestrated Vuitton’s mega collaboration with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, unfurling throughout the first half of this year and touching all categories of the business.

Commenting on these “significant organizational changes,” Bernard Arnault characterized his daughter’s arrival as chairman and CEO of Christian Dior Couture as “another milestone in a career journey in fashion and leather goods defined by excellence.”

Speaking of her tenure at Vuitton, he said the desirability of products “advanced significantly, enabling the brand to regularly set new sales records. Her keen insights and incomparable experience will be decisive assets in driving the ongoing development of Christian Dior.”

The driving force behind the LVMH Prize, marking its 10th anniversary in 2023, Arnault is known for having a strong rapport with designers and fine artists. Warm in demeanor, but with a steely determination, she delights in nurturing the creative sparks that fuel the industry, following design ideas through multiple steps until they reach the sales floor.

Her promotion comes less than a month after her eldest brother Antoine Arnault was appointed CEO of holding company Christian Dior SE, which controls LVMH, and vice chairman of its board. That move further locked in family control over the luxury empire, with Antoine Arnault taking on the new title in addition to his roles as CEO of Berluti, chairman of Loro Piana and head of communication, image and environment at LVMH.

Both siblings are also on the board of LVMH.

Wednesday’s announcement marks a return to Vuitton for Beccari, who joined the leather goods powerhouse from consumer products giant Henkel in 2006, initially as director of strategy and marketing coordination, ultimately taking on responsibility for business units including ready-to-wear and accessories and rising to executive vice president.

It also marks the second time Beccari has succeeded Burke. In 2012, Beccari became chairman and CEO of Fendi after Burke took the management helm of Bulgari SpA. Delphine Arnault also succeeds Beccari for the second time in her career: She had taken over Beccari’s responsibilities when she arrived at Vuitton, and now takes his place at Dior.

The internal movement is signature LVMH, which stockpiles management talent, promotes from within and grooms future leaders.

“We view these management changes as positive for both the Louis Vuitton and Dior brands, and they underline the bench strength and long-term custodian approach at LVMH which we see as one of the group’s core competitive advantages,” RBC Europe said in a research note Wednesday morning. “It also reflects ongoing leadership transition within the Arnault family.”

Shares in LVMH gained 2.1 percent Wednesday on the news, rising to 772.30 euros on the Paris Bourse.

“Pietro Beccari has done wonders at both Fendi and Dior — if at Louis Vuitton he manages to be only half as successful as he has been in the past 10 years, Louis Vuitton will fly to new and unprecedented heights,” Bernstein’s Solca wrote.

HSBC’s Rambourg estimates that Beccari quadrupled Dior’s sales to 8.8 billion euros — and with only 30 percent space expansion.

“In our view, this is a logical choice to run the largest luxury brand on the planet considering his track record,” the analyst told WWD. “We believe some reinvestments and large projects could be expected.”

He noted the latter could include transforming Vuitton’s Paris headquarters into a “hotel/museum/mega flagship and a lot more,” plus collaborations, and a “product diversification push.”

A man of action, and bold projects, Beccari’s crowning achievement at Dior was the overhaul of its historic Avenue Montaigne boutique, vastly expanded and transformed into a brand temple like no other, spanning a restaurant, pastry café, leafy atriums, a private apartment for VIP clients that gives them the full run of the place, and La Galerie de Dior, the biggest permanent exhibition space dedicated to fashion in the hands of a private house.

A driven, audacious and exacting executive, Beccari also orchestrated high-visibility events around the world for Dior at a blistering pace. In recent weeks alone, the brand unveiled a wondrous gingerbread-wrapped Harrods in London for Christmas, a dramatic men’s show in front of the Great Pyramids of Egypt, and the sprawling “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Named WWD’s Newsmaker of the Year in 2022, Beccari is prized for his entrepreneurial daring, marketing savvy and his flair for innovation and grand gestures.

“If you don’t take risks, you have no reward,” he told WWD in an interview last month. “I often say to my teams, ‘If you have everything under control, you’re not going fast enough.’”

In Wednesday’s statement on the management change, Bernard Arnault lauded Beccari for doing “an exceptional job” at Christian Dior over the past five years.

“His leadership has accelerated the appeal and success of this iconic maison. Monsieur Dior’s values of elegance and his innovative spirit have been given fresh intensity, supported by very talented designers. The reinvention of the historical boutique at 30 Montaigne is emblematic of this momentum. I am sure Pietro will lead Louis Vuitton to the next level of success and desirability.”

A native of Parma, Italy, Beccari once played soccer professionally and started his career in international marketing at consumer products giant Reckitt Benckiser in Milan. He went on to work for Parmalat in New York for a couple of years before joining Henkel in Germany, where he worked for 10 years.

Meanwhile, Burke bows out of Vuitton following a peerless, creative and widely admired tenure that lifted the group’s biggest and most profitable brand to new heights. He executed a strategy that brought new verve to multiple product categories, with leather Capucines bags now outselling those in monogram canvas, high jewelry humming, and bespoke trunks selling like hotcakes — and to people who often become the brand’s best customers.

He also built rtw into a multibillion-euro business, and one generating high levels of profitability in the range of 30 percent — flying in the face of assumptions that fashion is a loss-leading image vehicle to sell handbags.

He masterminded a collaboration between Vuitton and Supreme in 2017 that ignited the luxury streetwear trend, overhauled Vuitton’s store network by treating each unit as a bespoke project, and plunged the brand into perfume as an in-house project with a dedicated nose and flower domain.

Burke’s masterstroke was recruiting Virgil Abloh, founder of Off-White, as Vuitton’s artistic director of menswear in 2018, which brought the house buzz, cultural currency and a mold-breaking creative figure whose impact reverberates still. Vuitton has yet to name a successor following Abloh’s death in November 2021 at age 41.

The executive also brought in Francesca Amfitheatrof as Vuitton’s artistic director of watches and jewelry, while nurturing his strong rapport with star designer Nicolas Ghesquière, the brand’s artistic director of women’s collections for the past decade.

According to market sources, Vuitton’s revenues tripled during Burke’s tenure to exceed 21 billion euros, with profitability leaping fourfold.

While most management changes occur when businesses falter or stall, LVMH titan Bernard Arnault dares to shake things up when the going is good, with both LVMH and Dior logging strong growth in recent years.

LVMH’s fashion and leather goods division grew 24 percent in the third quarter of 2022, with Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior Couture continuing to shine.

“I want to extend my warmest thanks to Michael Burke, who has led the extraordinary success of Louis Vuitton during the past 10 years,” Bernard Arnault commented. “He has done a tremendous job developing this exceptional maison. He has extended Louis Vuitton’s lead over competitors and promoted the heritage of Louis Vuitton while anchoring it in modernity. The cultural strength of Louis Vuitton has been fully affirmed. Michael attracted the most outstanding designers and professional teams and helped them [assimilate] to the world of Vuitton.”

Insiders say Burke had an uncanny knack for making businesspeople fall in love with beautiful products — and creative types with business success.

Bernard Arnault also noted that Burke oversaw “the successful integration of Tiffany within the LVMH Group. I am delighted that Michael will continue, by my side, to share his experience and talent for the benefit of our companies.”

It is understood that Burke recognized an ideal moment to relinquish the operational reins at Vuitton, clearing the way for the group to promote younger executives and write new chapters at the heritage houses. Beccari is 55, and Delphine Arnault, 47.

He is expected to remain on the LVMH executive committee.

Born in the French Alps, Burke grew up in the U.S., went to high school in Germany and then enrolled in business school in Lille, France.

After graduating in 1980 with a master of business administration, he moved to the U.S. to work full-time for Arnault, initially on residential real estate at various family holdings before joining Christian Dior in the U.S. in 1986.

A key protégé of Arnault’s, and one of his most trusted deputies, Burke next served as president and CEO of Louis Vuitton North America from 1993 until 1997, when he returned to Paris as Dior’s executive vice president. He would go on to become worldwide managing director of Christian Dior Couture before joining Fendi as CEO in 2003 for nearly a decade.

A charismatic, cerebral and well-rounded executive with a fun-loving streak, Burke is renowned for his impeccable instincts, ability to motivate teams, get the best out of creative types, and manage complexity. He was presented with the WWD Honor for Creative Leadership last year.

Burke also masterminded the 2013 deal that saw LVMH acquire a majority stake in Loro Piana for 2 billion euros, adding a purveyor of luxurious, classic-tinged apparel to the group’s stable of marquee fashion houses.

Delapalme is a 17-year veteran of the group, having joined Vuitton in retail and regional roles before moving over to Fendi with retail, wholesale and operational responsibilities. He has been at Dior since 2018.

Bernard Arnault noted that Delapalme made a “significant contribution” to the growth of the Dior fashion house “thanks to his commercial expertise and remarkable strategic vision. Charles will work closely with Delphine to write a new chapter in the extraordinary history of Maison Christian Dior.”

Bianchi joined LVMH in 2018 from the Yves Rocher Group and his remit has rapidly expanded, with Bulgari added to the brands he oversees in 2021, when he also became a member of the LVMH executive committee.

Arnault called the integration of Tiffany into the watches and jewelry division “a natural step following the company’s successful integration within the LVMH Group. Stéphane Bianchi’s leadership skills, his understanding of products and markets, and his organizational acumen have enabled the maisons in the division to achieve remarkable results under his management. This includes the successful revamping of Tag Heuer, the acceleration of Chaumet, Fred and Zenith, along with continued excellent performance by Hublot and Bulgari. Stéphane will further heighten the unique appeal of each of these maisons while developing effective synergies among them.”

A graduate of EDHEC Business School in Lille, where Burke also studied, and the London School of Economics, Delphine Arnault started her career at consulting firm McKinsey.

She began at LVMH by heading business development at John Galliano for a year before moving over to Dior as commercial director in 2001. She has served as a director for many other group brands, and outside firms, including Dior SE, Gagosian, Ferrari and Phoebe Philo Ltd. Plc.

All of Bernard Arnault’s children now work within the group: Alexandre Arnault as executive vice president, product and communications at Tiffany; Frédéric Arnault as CEO of Tag Heuer, and Jean Arnault as director of marketing and development for Louis Vuitton. Last July, the Financière Agache holding was converted into a limited joint-stock partnership, a move designed to hand control of the entity to his five children. Last April, LVMH shareholders voted 81.6 percent in favor of a resolution to extend to 80 the age limit for its longtime chairman and CEO, Bernard Arnault, who is 73. Previously, the company’s bylaws fixed 75 as the age limit for serving as CEO.

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