LVMH, which already owns a stable of brands including Céline, Christian Dior and Marc Jacobs, has obtained a 17% stake in Hermès by buying up smaller stakeholders. But the families making up over 50% off the 173 year old company have united in their resolution to prevent a complete takeover. In an official statement, the conglomerate “reaffirmed its unity and its confidence in the solidity of its control of Hermès International...The will of the family to create this majority holding is irrevocable”.
While LVMH, and its CEO Bernard Arnault, have taken a softly softly approach to the dispute, at least in public, the Hermès faction is becoming increasingly vocal about its opposition to the LVMH takeover bid, at one point describing Hermès as the vulnerable "little flower" to predator LVMH.
Unsurprisingly, the fashion industry is closely watching this very public dispute unfold. Karl Lagerfeld, ever on hand to provide an acerbic piece of fashion commentary, was quick to point out in an interview with Suzy Menkes at the IHT Heritage Luxury Conference recently, that the only way to preserve family ownership of a company is not to sell pieces of it off in the first place... but let's not forget that as well as heading up Chanel, Mr Lagerfeld is also head designer to Fendi, owned by one LVMH.