For two years Bernard Arnault of LVMH signed my pay check. Well not directly but as an employee of Moet Hennessy I owed my position to his ambition. This week he dominated my Champagne glass (see previous blog) with Moet Chandon, Veuve Cliquot and Ruinart (the best in my opinion) just as one of his most profitable fashion houses, Dior, and the fall of its creative leader, John Galliano, dominated the headlines.
So it’s only appropriate that I’m reading an excellent update on Arnault’s circling of Hermes in the New York Sunday Times next to two chess players in a SBUX in Union Square. The ultimate game of strategy although some would say that Arnault’s ability to acquire, repurpose and exploit luxury artisinal brands exceeds that of any grandmaster.
I particularly like the observation in this well written article by Liz Alderman – “He speaks only when he has something to say, a quality that can come off as cold or supremely self confident”. As I look over at the two chess players (one the hustler and one being hustled) I note there is not too much dialogue either. In Arnault’s case silence speaks volumes and his almost 20% ownership of Hermes by stealth would suggest that those who can, do and those that cannot, just talk about it.
Armando Branchini from Intercorporate, Milan sums him up succinctly in the article – “Mr Arnault is an absolutely wonderful performer when the going is tough……(with) a special psychological ability to detect where the vulnerabilities lie.”
Juxtapositioned with the CEO of Hermes comment that “I don’t think that the fate of this world is to choose between eating and being eaten” and you can’t help but think that its only going to be a matter of time until Bernard Arnault wins again.
All things considered I feel lucky to have spent some time within his empire.