Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault was born on the 5th of March 1949. He is a French business magnate, an investor, and an art collector. Arnault is the chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of LVMH, the world's largest luxury-goods company. He is the richest person in France and the fourth richest person in the world according to Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $75.5 billion, as of March 2018.
After graduation, Arnault joined his father's company, in 1971. In 1976, he convinced his father to liquidate the construction division of the company for 40 million French francs and to change the focus of the company to real estate. Using the name Férinel, the new company developed a specialty in holiday accommodation. Named the Director of Company Development in 1974, he became the CEO in 1977. In 1979, he succeeded his father as president of the company.
In 1984, with the help of Antoine Bernheim, a senior partner of Lazard Frères, Arnault acquired the Financière Agache, a luxury goods company. He became the CEO of Financière Agache and subsequently took control of Boussac Saint-Frères, a textile company in turmoil. Boussac owned Christian Dior, the department store Le Bon Marché, the retail shop Conforama, and the diapers manufacturer Peaudouce. He sold nearly all the company's assets, keeping only the prestigious Christian Dior brand and Le Bon Marché department store.
In 1987, shortly after the creation of LVMH, the brand new luxury group resulting from the merger between two companies, Arnault mediated a conflict between Alain Chevalier, Moët Hennessy's CEO, and Henri Racamier, president of Louis Vuitton. The new group held property rights to Dior perfumes that Arnault believed should be incorporated into Dior Couture.
In July 1988, Arnault provided $1.5 billion to form a holding company with Guinness that held 24% of LVMH's shares. In response to rumors that the Louis Vuitton group was buying LVMH's stock to form a "blocking minority", Arnault spent $600 million to buy 13.5% more of LVMH, making him LVMH's first shareholder. In January 1989, he spent another $500 million to gain control a total of 43.5% of LVMH and 35% of voting rights, thus reaching the "blocking minority" that he needed to stop the dismantlement of the LVMH group. On 13 January 1989, he was unanimously elected chairman of the executive management board.
Since then, Arnault led the company through an ambitious development plan, transforming it into one of the largest luxury groups in the world, alongside Swiss luxury giant Richemont and French-based Kering. In eleven years, the market value of LVMH has multiplied by at least fifteen, while, simultaneously, the sales and profit rose by 500%. He promoted decisions towards decentralizing the group's brands. As a result of these measures, the brands are now viewed as independent firms with their own history.
Arnault professional decisions support the idea that LVMH has "shared advantages" such having the strong brands that help finance those that are still developing. The portfolio of major luxury brands has a history of stability, and thus its solidity allows for new acquisitions and group development. It is because of this strategy that Christian Lacroix could open his own fashion house.
In July 1988, Arnault acquired Céline In 1993, LVMH acquired Berluti and Kenzo. In the same year, Arnault bought out the French economic newspaper La Tribune. The company never achieved the desired success, despite his 150 million euro investment, and he sold it in November 2007 in order to buy a different French economic newspaper, Les Échos, for 240 million euros.
In 1994, LVMH acquired the perfume firm Guerlain. In 1996, Arnault bought out Loewe, followed by Marc Jacobs and Sephora in 1997. These brands were also integrated into the group: Thomas Pink in 1999, Emilio Pucci in 2000 and Fendi, DKNY and La Samaritaine in 2001.
In the 1990s, Arnault decided to develop a centre in New York to manage LVMH's presence in the United States. He chose Christian de Portzamparc to supervise this project. The result was the LVMH Tower that opened in December 1999.
3. You Can Always Learn More
It doesn’t matter how good you become at your chosen skill or craft, there is always potential for more learning and development. Many successful people might let their achievements go to their head, and make them think there’s nothing they can improve upon. This really isn’t true; there’s always room for people to improve and learn more, which is exactly why Arnault and many other people have continued to grow year by year. It’s all about being hungry to learn more, always.
4. Never quit.
5. Invest for the long term.
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