LVMH’S DRINKS DIVISION DISAPPOINTS AS SALES SLIDE BY 4%
Last year was a record breaker for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury goods group – but it was a far less rosy picture for the conglomerate’s wines and spirits business.
Total revenue for the French group reached €86.2 billion in 2023, up by 13% (organic growth) compared with 2022. All business groups reported strong organic revenue – most of it driven by the two biggest divisions; fashion and leather goods, and selective retail. The exception was the Moët Hennessy drinks division which fell by 4% to €6.6 billion.
The division was also the only one to see profits decline. However, at €2.1 billion, the wines and spirits business still delivers more profit for the group than either selective retailing or beauty. Total LVMH Group profit from recurring operations rose by 8% to €22.8 billion in 2023.
In defense of Moët Hennessy – whose brands include Ardbeg and Glenmorangie Scotch whiskies, wine brands Cloudy Bay Joseph Phelps Vineyards, and Minuty, Hennessy cognac, and champagnes like Armand de Brignac (part-owned by Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter), Dom Pérignon, Krug, Moët & Chandon, Ruinart, and Veuve Clicquot – LVMH said that the division had faced a high basis of comparison in 2022 as well as stubbornly high inventory levels.
Contrasting trends across different markets
LVMH said that 2022 had been an exceptional year for its wines and spirits business so it was, in some ways, inevitable that 2023 might not fare well on a comparison basis. The fact that profits, while down, remain an important contributor to the group’s overall income suggests that the division remains on a reasonable footing.
There were also some positive takeaways. The champagne business posted growth of 2%, with good performances in Europe and Japan although price rises were a factor in the growth. These regions helped to offset an unfavourable macroeconomic environment in the United States which seems quite embedded.
However, cognac and spirits crashed by 10%, mainly a result of the situation in the US. Driven by its value strategy, Hennessy cognac saw a mixed recovery in China and some post-Covid normalisation of demand in the US, where maintaining more balanced inventory levels among retailers remains a top priority.
Meanwhile, in the still buoyant Provence rosé wine market, LVMH acquired the prestigious Minuty estate, the second-largest player after Château d’Esclans, which also continued its international development.
On the overall result, the world’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, LVMH’s chairman and CEO, commented: “Our performance in 2023 illustrates the exceptional appeal of our Maisons and their ability to spark desire, despite a year affected by economic and geopolitical challenges.
“While remaining vigilant in the current context, we enter 2024 with confidence, backed by our highly desirable brands and agile teams. It promises to be an inspiring, exceptional year for us all, featuring our partnership with the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
In total LVMH, has a portfolio of 75 prestigious brands and a retail network of over 6,000 stores worldwide. Moët Hennessy consists of 26 maisons, many of which have been around for centuries, while others are relatively new. The division’s stated vision is “to lead the future of luxury wines and spirits from nature to communities”.
Unrelenting high-end focus
Located in the most prestigious terroirs around the world, Moët Hennessy covers all segments where it can play in the high-end segment, from winemaking to spirits distilling, as well as bricks-and-clicks retail management and craft experiences for consumers.
Last summer, Moët Hennessy unveiled the Cravan multi-cocktail bar (on four levels) in the famed Saint-Germain-des-Prés literary neighbourhood of Paris. The bars are staffed by cocktail experts – many of them artisans turned mixologists. Celebrating French art de vivre, the venue is designed to underscore Moët Hennessy’s sophistication in collaboration with historian turned restaurateur and cocktail expert Franck Audoux, who is the founder and artistic director of Cravan.
“Cravan brings to life Moët Hennessy’s mission of crafting memorable experiences,” said Philippe Schaus, President and CEO of the division. This exceptional venue is a strategic milestone in Moët Hennessy’s ambition to lead the future of luxury wines and spirits.”
One of the LVMH division’s environmental goals is encapsulated in its Living Soils Living Together programme. This is structured around four key commitments: regenerating soils, mitigating climate impact, engaging society, and empowering its workforce.
[Lead image courtesy of Odd Fellow/Unsplash.]