LVMH's new path to people's hearts (and pockets) is through sprawling real estate empires in New York, Paris and Miami

While it’s known for shiny bags, perfumes and apparel, the Bernard Arnault-owned company also wants skin in the game when it comes to entire global shopping districts. 

Whether that’s in legacy sites like New York’s Fifth Avenue and Paris’s Champs-Elysées, or the newer warehouse-turned-shopping experience like in Miami’s Design District, the French conglomerate has real estate investments across the board—either directly or through its private equity arm, L Catterton. 

The goal? To make sure it can hold on to its presence where people spend the most. LVMH’s investments in real estate have been ticking up—in 2023, the Christian Dior owner set a new record for its real estate investments, hitting roughly €2.45 billion ($2.62 billion).    

“All roads lead to real estate,” Michael Burke, the head of LVMH Fashion Group, told the Wall Street Journal, adding that the most valuable luxury company is creating a city of its own through its controlled properties. 

In Miami, where LVMH has pumped money towards the Design District through L Catterton, the French company’s sway is unlike any other—whether that’s the area’s tenants or even the local artwork.

What’s common to most of these shopping areas is that LVMH’s brands—from Tiffany’s to Louis Vuitton—are located side-by-side with its luxury industry competitors. That’s the point, Burke said. 

“If we don’t have the competitors, we don’t have a new city,” said Burke. “We take something that does not exist and when we’re done a city center has been created with the residential, retail, and cultural aspects to it.”

Fashion companies have driven other big real estate purchases in recent times. Just take Gucci owner Kering—it just shelled out €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion) on a new store location in Milan, where LVMH’s Italian cafe brand Cova is also located. The company also snapped up property in New York worth $963 million earlier this year. LVMH has been in talks to buy another prime property in New York, for which it’s battling other luxury houses like Chanel.

Luxury companies are facing a challenging time as people pull back on spending relative to the COVID-19 boom. Still, the stores ran empty, and it’s been a sluggish path to recovering that since. 

Now, there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel, which has prompted luxury behemoths to bet on in-person shopping experiences. Data on Europe’s 16 luxury streets saw a near-complete recovery in the average rent as of mid-last year, according to Savills. 

“There is an appetite from brands to be in city centres to enhance their visibility to a greater number of customers, taking advantage of the strong resurgence of footfall on Europe’s key shopping streets,” Larry Brennan, the head of European retail agency at Savills, said in a note in November. 

The desire to reach more customers by being on the most famous and popular streets in the world is undoubtedly part of the reason luxury brands are buying up property—but it’s also just more economical to be their own landlord, given the rents can be astronomical in prime shopping areas.

“We try to secure and buy the best possible locations for our companies,” Arnault said in an earnings call in January.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top