Former Louis Vuitton CEO Yves Carcelle dies aged 66

Energetic pioneer grew the brand’s revenue from an estimated €500m to more than €7bn

Former Louis Vuitton chief executive, who has died aged 66, at the opening of the company’s new ‘Etoile’ store in 2012. Photograph: Alessia Pierdomenico/ Bloomberg

Former Louis Vuitton chief executive, who has died aged 66, at the opening of the company’s new ‘Etoile’ store in 2012. Photograph: Alessia Pierdomenico/ Bloomberg

 

Yves Carcelle, the man credited with turning Louis Vuitton into the world’s biggest luxury brand by revenue, has died, Louis Vuitton parent LVMH said.

Mr Carcelle, an energetic, self-made man who headed Louis Vuitton for more than two decades until 2012, died of cancer. He was 66 years old.

His death comes as LVMH is working hard to revive Louis Vuitton by moving it upmarket after sales growth plummeted in the past two years.

“A tireless traveller, Yves was a pioneer ... Always curious, passionate and in motion, he was one of the most inspiring leaders of men and women whom I have ever had the privilege of knowing,” LVMH chief executive and founder Bernard Arnault said in a statement today (ON MONDAY).

Louis Vuitton is the biggest profit and cash generator for LVMH, the world’s No.1 luxury group which owns more than 60 brands including fashion labels Christian Dior, Celine and Fendi, jeweller Bulgari and cognac maker Hennessy.

Mr Carcelle, a charismatic manager who inspired his teams to work as much as him, including on weekends, was regarded as the smooth implementer of Mr Arnault’s global ambitions for Louis Vuitton.

“He led the industry into retail away from the wholesale model and played a key role in the development of the global luxury goods industry,” said Julian Easthope, a luxury goods analyst at Barclays.

Louis Vuitton was an industry trailblazer, one of the first major luxury brands to only sell its goods in directly operated shops and never offer discounts.

During his tenure, Mr Carcelle quadrupled Louis Vuitton’s store network to just under 470, many of them in strategically important emerging markets such as China.

He grew the brand’s revenue from an estimated €500 million in 1990 to more than €7 billion and oversaw its diversification into watches and jewellery, and into ready-to-wear under the stewardship of designer Marc Jacobs.

Colleagues said Mr Carcelle knew little about luxury when he became Louis Vuitton’s strategy director in 1989 and, a year later, its chief executive. Yet, he quickly won Mr Arnault’s trust and became one of his most respected lieutenants. – Reuters