Research article

What are the large luxury houses investing into?

Investment activity across the big luxury houses has intensified over the last three years. Across the top 10, funding volumes (based on known values) reached $8.3bn, 10 times that seen in 2016.

Half of this activity can be attributed to the houses adding to their stable of brands, with an increasing focus on specialist footwear, luggage and accessory brands in order to capitalise on the increasing spend in this part of the market. Capri Holdings (formerly Michael Kors Group) acquired Jimmy Choo for a reported $1.35bn in 2017, which was followed by a number of new store openings the following year in previously underserved destination cities such as Vancouver, Copenhagen, Oslo and Florence.

The remainder of investment activity, however, highlights the evolution and democratisation of luxury away from traditional luxury goods. The top 10 luxury houses have invested just over $3.4bn into online retail and social platforms, including the well-publicised acquisition of Yoox Net-a-Porter by Richemont and LVMH Ventures stake in streetwear e-commerce market place Stadium Goods, with the company subsequently acquired by Farfetch.

Shifting luxury spend towards experiences, leisure and services was no doubt one of the drivers behind LVMH’s $2.6bn acquisition of Belmond Hotels in 2018. It is also evidenced in the funding trends of private equity firm L Catterton, of which LVMH is a partner. For example, since 2016, 21% of funding deals have been into restaurant & bar brands/operators.

Future investment is likely to follow a similar trajectory, with funding to emerging luxury segments such as streetwear, online & social platforms, pre-owned and rental brands expected to increase as the houses diversify. As we have seen historically, this investment will activate future store requirements and like the big luxury houses their focus will be on flagship spaces in key global destinations.

Investments By The Top 10 Luxury Groups, 2016 – 2018 (US$ millions)
Pitchbook | Note: Based on deals between January 2016 and December 2018 where investment value is known. Includes acquisitions and early & later stage VC. Excludes LVMH private equity arm L Catterton.

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