Inside the Lanvin Group's plans to become a top luxury player
Lanvin Group wants to play in the top flight, and reckons it has all the assets to be crowned the luxury industry’s next champion. This is the ambitious plan set out by the Chinese group, owner of five prestigious labels including Lanvin and Sergio Rossi, after recently announcing it intends to list on NYSE this year. As its senior management indicated in a video-conference, Lanvin Group is “the first and only global luxury group based in China, in Shanghai, benefiting from unrivalled access to the sector’s most important and fastest-growing market.”
"We are a young group, an emerging luxury market leader, and we have great potential for growth. The Chinese luxury market is very promising, with a 27% growth rate forecast in five years. We are therefore extremely well-positioned,” said David Chan, the group’s executive president and co-COO, underlining that Lanvin Group still has a scant presence on Chinese e-tail sites, and doesn’t operate many monobrand stores.
“Our retail expansion has just begun. Lanvin, for example, has only about 30 stores,” he said. The group operates 300 monobrand stores worldwide and is also distributed via 1,200 multibrand retailers. Lanvin Group therefore has significant room for growth, and it plans to expand its product range and strengthen its presence across all distribution channels.
Lanvin Group is currently doing business in 80 countries and employs 3,600 people. It generates a revenue of €333 million, which it plans to treble by 2025 to reach €989 million, posting a 31% increase in five years. A progression that is expected to be driven by a 40% rise in online sales and a 43% increase in direct retail sales, via the opening of 200 new monobrand stores, half of them in China.
The group is relying on strong retail expansion and on an e-tail explosion, given “our stores’ remarkable performance in 2021,” as well as on significant investments to improve its profitability. The group has been recording losses since 2019, though they were reduced last year. In 2021, the group recorded a gross operating deficit (EBITDA) of €79 million (adjusted EBITDA, taking into account the contribution of Sergio Rossi - a label acquired by Lanvin Group in 2021 - increased the loss to €85 million). The group has predicted it will turn a profit again in 2024.
The group’s sales in Greater China account for only 14% of its revenue, and are expected to increase five-fold by 2025 (equivalent to a 56% CAGR), to reach a 28% share. The group’s main market is currently the EMEA region (with a 48% share of revenue), followed by North America (33%). “We want to accelerate the growth of all our brands in all markets. Not only in China, but also in the rest of Asia, notably Japan, and the USA,” said CEO Joann Cheng, who emphasised the notion of the business ecosystem that the group is building.
Lanvin Group has six production sites and has recently set up a new creative organisation featuring an internal design studio, complemented by contributions from both Chinese and European designers, via a Milan-based design lab.
The group’s ecosystem also hinges on strategic alliances with specialist operators in a number of key sectors, each acting as preferential partner for all the group’s labels: Baozun, China’s leading e-commerce partner for consumer brands; Activation Group, an interactive marketing data expert; K11, a Chinese luxury shopping mall operator; Neo-Concept Group, a Chinese apparel manufacturer; sports footwear producer Stella International; and Japanese distributor Itochu. The Primavera investment firm, with offices in Asia and the USA, is the latest addition to the ecosystem, and will act as the Lanvin Group's operational partner for the NYSE listing.
Lanvin Group was known until last October as Fosun Fashion Group, and is the fashion and luxury arm of giant Chinese conglomerate Fosun International, founded in 1992 and generating a revenue of €17.1 billion. Lanvin Group was incorporated in 2017, after Fosun had been buying stakes in a number of labels from as early as 2013, among them Italian high-end menswear label Caruso, now fully owned by the group, and US knitwear specialist St. John, in which the group owns a 94.6% stake.
As for its other main brands, the group bought an 87.4% stake in Parisian label Lanvin in 2018, and has a 58.5% stake in Austrian lingerie and tights brand Wolford, while it bought a 99% stake in Italian footwear label Sergio Rossi at the end of 2021. Also owned by Lanvin Group is German fashion retailer Tom Tailor, which strangely does not appear on the group’s website, and is not mentioned in its documentation.
The Lanvin Group’s goal is to continue to grow “organically and by means of acquisitions, at the rate of one or two operations per year.” Two are said to be already in the pipeline for 2022. The group's senior managers, who emphasised their preference for prudent growth, are open to all types of acquisitions. “They may involve emerging designer brands, popular on the market and with supply chain value in terms of production and fabric development, or brands that operate in the accessories or leather goods segments. But they may also be companies active in the fields of digital infrastructure and online business,” said Chan. In addition, the group is also planning to “launch an incubator project focusing on minority investments in fast-growing start-ups with a reputation for creativity and digitalisation, ideally tapping smart, sustainable supply chains.” The project has been allocated funds worth $20 million.
Wolford is currently the group’s driving engine, with a revenue of €111.5 million in 2021 (up by 28%). It operates 262 monobrand stores, 176 of which are directly owned, and has 3,400 multibrand clients. Wolford’s online sales skyrocketed in 2021, increasing by 63%, and they soared by 91% in Greater China and by 50% in the USA.
But the group is relying on Lanvin, whose development potential is huge, to generate most of its future growth. The Parisian label is distributed via 34 monobrand stores and 260 multibrand retailers, and in 2021 it almost doubled its revenue, growing from €32.7 million in 2020 to €66 million last year (equivalent to a 107% increase). Its online sales grew by a factor of 5.7, and they went through the roof in North America (where they increased by 283%) and China (up by 144%). Lanvin’s revenue is expected to reach €264 million by 2025, according to the group’s forecasts, thanks to a sharp increase in retail sales, but also through the wholesale and e-tail channels and Lanvin’s beauty business.
Sergio Rossi is distributed via 50 monobrand stores and 262 multibrand retailers. It grew from a revenue of €47.9 million in 2020 to one of €56.7 million last year, and is expected to reach more than €130 million in five years. St. John has 130 stores, 47 of which are directly managed, and in 2021 it generated a revenue of €74.5 million (up 12% over 2020). Lanvin Group is planning to grow St. John’s revenue to €189.7 million by 2025. Finally, Caruso is distributed through 160 multibrand retailers, including a number of shop-in-shops.
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