February 28, 2018 / 6:54 PM / 17 days ago

France's Lanvin expects Chinese connections to deliver sales bounce

* China’s Fosun is new majority owner of Lanvin label

* Can exploit synergies with other Fosun firms - Lanvin CEO

* Question mark linger over changes Fosun will want to make

* Lanvin unveiled latest collection at Paris Fashion Week

By Sarah White

PARIS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Lanvin’s new Chinese shareholder Fosun could help the French couture house grow sales tenfold over the next five to six years by opening new doors, its chief executive said.

Nicolas Druz said following Lanvin’s latest catwalk collection on Wednesday that Fosun would boost the label with new cash but also, for instance, by helping it secure prime boutique locations.

Fosun, which has investments stretching from property development to insurance, became majority shareholder of the struggling 129-year-old French brand this month.

“There are a lot of synergies with other businesses in the Fosun group,” Druz said, citing its digital investments as luxury goods groups seek to ramp up online sales.

Druz said Lanvin could reach at least 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in annual sales, from a little over 100 million euros now, by branching into areas such as hotels and homeware.

Lanvin revenues took a dive after it parted ways in 2015 with star designer Alber Elbaz. But even in better times, the couture house never exceeded a peak of 235 million euros, sources had previously told Reuters.

Lanvin, until recently 75 percent-owned by Taiwan-based media magnate Shaw-Lan Wang, does not publish earnings although Druz confirmed losses of around 30 million euros in 2017.


Wang and Swiss investor Ralph Bartel reinvested in Lanvin when Fosun bought in, but Druz did not disclose their stakes, saying more financing rounds were planned.

Wang, who sat in the front row at the runway show just off Paris’s chic Place Vendome, said she was pleased to be passing the baton to Fosun, which a source close to the matter had invested around 100 million euros in its most prominent investment in fashion to date.

“The group’s very good, young and dynamic,” Wang said. “They are not in fashion but they will learn very fast.”

Fosun, which also owns French leisure group Club Med, is one of several Chinese conglomerates trying to push into a world of luxury still dominated by European firms.

Whether Fosun sticks to the management and creative team at Lanvin - including artistic chief Olivier Lapidus, whose women’s styles unveiled on Tuesday echoed the colours of LED lights, with designs in bright orange or purple - is another question.

“The reaction was good, so we are confident,” Druz said, after Lapidus’ second Lanvin collection was met with applause. “That said, there are (always) business assessments carried out by a new shareholder, and that includes me, it’s normal.”

Fosun could not immediately be reached for comment. ($1 = 0.8203 euros) (Reporting by Sarah White editing by Richard Lough and Alexander Smith)

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