LVMH appoints new Givenchy CEO

LVMH poaches rival group Prada’s COO for top job at French fashion house Givenchy

Givenchy, the French fashion house owned by LVMH, has announced a new chief executive officer poached from Italian arch rival Prada.

Sebastian Suhl, formerly chief operating officer of the Prada Group, took over his CEO responsibilities with immediate effect following Tuesday’s announcement. Mr Suhl, an ESADE business school graduate who joined Prada in 2001 following executive positions at both Courreges and Thimister, had also been publically pursued by several high-profile retail brands including Uniqlo in recent months.

Mr Suhl, 43, has long been earmarked for great things by the luxury industry following the success of Prada’s retail expansion in Asia under his supervision between 2005 and 2009. The Milanese luxury goods group raised $2.1 billion in a Hong Kong IPO last June and currently has a Chinese store network of around 350 outlets.

“During his time at Prada, Sebastian Suhl has shown not only an in-depth knowledge of the markets but also the capacity to expand and increase business dynamically and effectively,” remarked Prada’s CEO Patrizio Bertelli following Mr Suhl’s 2009 promotion to COO at the group.

Mr Suhl will now be at the helm of a luxury brand on the rise. Givenchy staged their AW/12 collection at Paris Fashion Week last weekend to near unanimous critical acclaim. Riccardo Tisci, the label’s couturier since 2005, is also a designer favourite of some of the world’s most famous women, including Lady Gaga, Madonna and Rooney Mara.

With the eyes of the fashion world once again upon the house after a decade or so out of favour, widespread speculation following Mr Suhl’s appointment would suggest an expansion strategy is now in the pipeline for Givenchy.

Such a move would consolidate LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault’s increasing commitment to his stable of ‘second-tier’ brands such as Kenzo, Loewe, Celine and now Givenchy. Despite not bringing in the same degree of revenue as titan brands such as Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, the smaller labels have recently generated impressive growth, particularly in China and the emerging markets. Last month LVMH reported sales for 2011 of €23.7bn, up 14 per cent on a like-for-like basis and at constant exchange rates, or 16 per cent in reported terms.

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