Chanel Bought a Tannery, So What?

The big news today is that Paris-based design house, Chanel, bought out the lamb hide tannery that has been providing its leather for some time now. The Karl Lagerfeld-helmed company acquired its long-time lamb hide provider, France-based tannery Bodin-Joyeux. This isn't all that novel, though. You may recall that LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton pulled a somewhat similar stunt two years ago, buying Heng Long, a crocodile tanning company.

In October 2011, the French brand offered $160.8 million for a Singapore-based tannery, paying $0.60 each for all 268 million shares of the company. (Key Heng Long shareholders agreed to sell a total of 73.7%; Heng Long management has decided to reinvest $69.5 million in a joint venture where LVMH and Heng Long maintain ownership stakes of 51% and 49%, respectively). And in an epically grander move, because Hermès will be outdone by NO BRAND, the Paris-based brand, which is known for its Birkin and Kelly bags, started breeding its own crocodiles in 2009 ...

In 2009, Hermes resorted to breeding its own crocodiles on farms in Australia to try to meet demand for its leather bags. According to the company's CEO, Patrick Thomas: "It can take three to four crocodiles to make one of our bags so we are now breeding our own crocodiles on our own farms, mainly in Australia."

According to Reuters, Hermes  faces a major challenge producing 3,000 crocodile bags a year, Thomas said, adding: "The world is not full of crocodiles, except the stock exchange!" Hermes' leather goods, which account for 40 percent of its business, have been the most robust in the current downturn with the group taking on 50-100 leather workers this year to add to the 2,000 craftsmen it already employs at French sites. So, there's that.