Will Antoine Arnault Succeed His Father at LVMH?

1 minutes reading time
Published 21 Dec 2023
Reviewed by: Kasper Karlsson
Updated 22 Mar 2024

Bernard Arnault, CEO and Chairman of LVMH, recently advanced his eldest son, Antoine Arnault, to a more prominent role within the world's largest luxury conglomerate, fueling extensive speculation about succession at LVMH. In December 2022, Antoine assumed the role of CEO and Vice-Chairman of Christian Dior SE, the holding company through which his Arnault family controls LVMH. This article explores Antoine's journey, leadership style, personal life, and his potential role in shaping the future of the luxury industry.

Key Insights

  • Experience in the luxury industry: Antoine Arnault, as CEO of Christian Dior SE and chairman of both Berluti and Loro Piana, demonstrates extensive experience in various facets of the luxury industry. His leadership role at Christian Dior SE, a significant entity managing the Arnault family's wealth, highlights his potential to eventually lead the entire LVMH empire in the future.

  • Strategic role shifting: Antoine's recent step down from the CEO position at Berluti, which he held since 2012, suggests a strategic shift to focus more on the responsibilities at the family holding company.

  • Succession planning in LVMH: Antoine's diverse experience positions him as a key figure in LVMH's succession planning. Alongside his sister Delphine, CEO of Christian Dior, they are viewed as the most likely candidates to take over the helm of LVMH after Bernard Arnault.

  • Personal life and interests: Outside of his professional achievements, Antoine is known for his interests in poker and golf, and his marriage to Natalia Vodianova, a renowned Russian supermodel and philanthropist. They married in 2020 and have two children.

Steering the Family's Wealth: Antoine at the Helm of Christian Dior SE

Antoine Arnault, the eldest son of Bernard Arnault, has navigated through a variety of roles, gaining extensive command over different aspects of the luxury industry. His experience ranges from communication and branding to establishing a fashion house and overseeing the central operations of the LVMH conglomerate.

He serves as chairman of both Berluti and Loro Piana, and has held the position as CEO of the family holding company, Christian Dior SE, since December 2022. His oversight of the holding company, which is where the majority of the Arnault family's wealth is managed, arguably shed light on his potential to lead the empire when Bernard decides to pass on the torch. According to its 2022 annual report, the Arnault family owns approximately 48 percent of LVMH's shares, holding 64 percent of the voting rights. The majority of this shareholding is reportedly through Christian Dior SE.

In November 2023, LVMH announced that Antoine would step down from his CEO position at the high-end leatherwear maker Berluti in January 2023. His departure from this operational role, which he has held since 2012, enables him to focus more on the family holding company. Prior to Antoine taking the position as CEO of the family holding company, it was helmed by Sidney Toledano for 20 years, one of Bernard's most trusted advisors.

Antoine's tenure at Berluti, starting in 2012, was marked by significant expansion. He broadened the Italian footwear and leather goods label's scope by introducing prêt-à-porter menswear, following the acquisition of a Parisian tailoring house that same year. Later, he assumed an additional role as chairman of Loro Piana, after LVMH acquired a controlling stake in the company in 2013. Under his leadership, Loro Piana has flourished, rivaling Brunello Cucinelli in providing understated, high-end luxury fashion wear for Silicon Valley’s tech elite and other members of the top one percent. His 11-year stint at Berluti is noted as one of the longer tenures for an Arnault family member in a single position within the luxury conglomerate.

Antoine's Position in LVMH's Succession Planning

In the complex dynamics of LVMH's succession scenario, Antoine Arnault's broad experience from his positions at Berluti and Loro Piana, combined with his current role as the CEO of Christian Dior SE, set him apart.

While his sister Delphine is CEO of Christian Dior and his siblings occupy other significant roles within the group – Alexandre Arnault as Executive Vice President at Tiffany & Co, Frédéric Arnault as CEO of Tag Heuer, and Jean Arnault as Watch Director at Louis Vuitton – Antoine, along with his older sister Delphine, holds the most senior and experienced position. This arguably makes either Antoine and Delphine the most likely candidates to take over the helm of the entire group upon Bernard's retirement.

"The appointment of Antoine Arnault exemplifies a planned transition in a spirit of fair process around the succession of Bernard Arnault," said Philippe Pelé-Clamour, an expert on the governance of family firms at business school HEC Paris.

However, Bernard Arnault made a significant change in the company's policy regarding the retirement age for its CEO in 2022, which was raised from 75 to 80 years. This amendment allows Bernard Arnault, who was 73 years old at the time of this decision, to potentially remain at the helm of LVMH until 2029, extending his already impressive four-decade leadership of the company.

Personal Life: A Poker Player and Married to a Supermodel

On the personal side, Antoine and Alexandre are generally regarded as the more outgoing ones among the Arnault siblings. In his leisure time, Antoine enjoys flying to Las Vegas to engage in poker and golf with friends. Sharing his father's deep interest in art, Antoine has embraced modern digital trends as well. Interestingly, he has used his personal NFT as his profile picture on Instagram for a couple of years.

Antoine's encounter with Natalia Vodianova, a renowned Russian supermodel and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, was a pivotal moment in his life. Their first meeting took place in 2008 on the set of a Louis Vuitton campaign, an experience Antoine vividly recalled in a 2017 interview with W Magazine. At that time, Vodianova was already a notable figure in the fashion world, distinguished not only for her modeling career but also for her philanthropic work, particularly with the United Nations. Antoine and Natalia married in 2020, have two children together, and reside in Paris.

Concluding Remarks

Antoine Arnault's journey within LVMH and his personal life combine to paint a portrait of a dynamic, forward-thinking leader, equally comfortable in the boardroom and in his personal pursuits. His diverse experiences in various roles within the luxury conglomerate, along with his strategic vision and understanding of the luxury market, position him as a key figure in the future of LVMH.

As LVMH continues to evolve under Bernard Arnault's leadership, the grooming of the next generation indicates a well-planned succession strategy. With Bernard's decision to extend his tenure, there is ample time for a smooth transition, ensuring the continuity and stability of the luxury empire. Antoine Arnault, with his extensive experience, entrepreneurial spirit, and deep understanding of the luxury sector, stands as a strong contender to lead LVMH into its next chapter.

Why are finance professionals around the world choosing Quartr Pro?

With a broad global customer base spanning from equity analysts, portfolio managers, to IR departments, the reasons naturally vary, but here are four that we often hear:

Increase productivity

Eliminate hours of searching for specific data points buried deep inside company material.

Get a one-stop-shop solution

Everything you need for qualitative public market research in one single platform.

Uncover rare insights

Understand the qualitative aspects of entire industries or specific companies.

Leverage the power of AI

Incorporate AI functionality into your daily workflow.