Beating Jeff Bezos on the number 1 spot for the World’s Richest Man, Bernard Arnault jumps back to the spot with a net worth of $199.9B.

How Fashion Industry Made Bernard Arnault World’s Richest Man

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According to Forbes, Arnault beat Bezos when Amazon stocks went down by 7.6%, making Bezos lose $13.9B while the French tycoon lost $2.9B but still managed to be ahead of Bezos. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton currently carries 75 brands and subsidiaries and 17 of which are luxury fashion brands like Celine, Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Loewe.

So how exactly did this luxury giant becomes the world’s richest man? 

Bernard Jean Arnault, born in Roubaix, France was a son of a manufacturer and the civil engineering company Ferret-Savinel. Having graduated from École Polytechnique— France’s leading engineering school– he started working for his father’s company. Soon, he convinced his father to divert the company’s focus on real estate. The young Arnault became Ferret-Savinel’s president from 1978-1984. 

In 1983, Boussac Saint-Frères declared bankruptcy. Boussac is a textile and retail giant which owned a number of department stores and luxury goods including Christian Dior. The French government was looking for someone to save the textile empire and Arnault was eager to acquire Dior so with the help of his family’s fortune and the French financial institution, Lazard Frères, he purchased Boussac. 

Within 2 years of obtaining the company, he laid off 9,000 workers and sold most of the company’s assets with the exemption of Christian Dior and Le Bon Marché department store. Within those 2 years, the company was profitable again. 

How Fashion Industry Made Bernard Arnault World’s Richest Man

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Becoming LVMH’s largest stakeholder

It did not take long for Arnault to build his dream luxury group. In 1987, Louis Vuitton, Moët et Chandon, and Hennessy merged to form the LVMH Group. The man dubbed as the “wolf in cashmere” sought to oust Louis Vuitton’s chairman, Henry Racamier by buying the majority of the shares while Racamier was in the middle of a business feud with LVMH’s then-chairman, Alain Chevalier. Racamier eventually resigned and Arnault was unanimously elected as LVMH’s new chairman. 

How Fashion Industry Made Bernard Arnault World’s Richest Man

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Since then, the business tycoon expanded LVMH’s reach by acquiring luxury brands varying from haute couture houses to jewelry, beauty products, and even yachts. Their recent transactions included buying Tiffany & Co. (but for a reduced price), taking 60% of shares from Virgil Abloh’s brand, Off-White, and taking a minority stake at Phoebe Philo’s upcoming new label. 

Published by HOLR Magazine