Bernard Arnault, controls some of the world’s biggest luxury companies and he’s now richer than Warren Buffett

This French billionaire controls some of the world’s biggest luxury companies (Dior, Louis Vuitton, Celine, among others)—and he’s now riche...

This French billionaire controls some of the world’s biggest luxury companies (Dior, Louis Vuitton, Celine, among others)—and he’s now richer than Warren Buffett

In the past month, the French billionaire Bernard Arnault, the CEO of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, has climbed the ranks of the world’s richest, passing Warren Buffett to become the third wealthiest person in the world.

(Clockwise from top left) Carlos Slim, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Bernard Arnault Photo: AFP/Getty Images

LVMH’s first quarter revenues, released April 10, sent the stock price up more than 3% throughout the day, helping boost Arnault’s fortune. Since the release of the Forbes Billionaires list on March 5, his fortune has climbed $11.2 billion to a recent $87.2 billion.

His net worth gains are thanks to the success of LVMH, which had year-over-year revenue growth of 16% in the first quarter of 2019, hitting $14.1 billion in sales and beating analysts’ expectations.The growth comes as high end buyers around the world continue to pick up luxury goods and spirits, despite fears that demand, particularly in China, would slow down.

“The trends observed in 2018 continued throughout the first quarter. All geographic regions are experiencing good growth,” the company said in a press release.

The company’s fashion and leather goods department, which boasts brands like Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Celine, propelled the growth, with organic revenue growth of 15% and $5.76 billion in sales. Louis Vuitton had a particularly good quarter, the company said. The brand’s new menswear artistic director, Virgil Abloh, has had a successful first year at the company, with his streetwear-inspired collections receiving praise and selling well—the brand even opened a new leather workshop in France to keep up with demand. The company also said Dior, whose new designer is Kim Jones, has achieved growth worldwide in fashion and leather goods, as well as in perfumes and cosmetics.

In spirits, which account for about 10% of the conglomerate’s sales, the group’s namesake Hennessy cognac saw a sales increase of 11%, with the U.S.and China fueling growth. Watches and jewelry had the lowest level of growth, with the category recording 4% organic sales growth.

As the world’s largest luxury goods company, LVMH acts as an indicator for other companies in the same league, such as Francois Pinault’s Kering, which owns Gucci and Balenciaga and Johann Rupert’s Richemont, which owns Cartier and Montblanc. Both of those stocks were also up on Wednesday.


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