In case you missed it, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization, famous for its shocking media campaigns, has acquired a very small stake in French luxury goods brand, Hermès. According to a statement from the animal rights group, it became a shareholder in Hermès by acquiring a single share in the company worth $360 on the Paris stock exchange in late July. But why? Well, the single share will give PETA access to Hermès’s shareholder meetings and further pressure the brand to stop using alligator and crocodile skins to make its products. It is worth noting that some of the brand’s most expensive bags are made from crocodile skins – selling from upwards of $50,000.
PETA’s acquisition comes on the heels of the recent release of video footage from two farms, one located in Zimbabwe and another in Winnie, Texas, that serve as suppliers for Hermès-owned tanneries. The video depicts the cruel treatment of crocodiles (think: skinning them alive for their hides). While Hermes denies using the crocodile skins supplied by the farm showed in the PETA video – the allegations have also put the company in an unfavorable position with actress Jane Birkin, after whom the brand’s most famous bag was named. Birkin has since demanded that the iconic design house remove her name from the bag. There is no word on whether Hermès will, in fact, drop the Birkin name from its bag.
And in case shareholders were worried that such bad press would negatively affect sales, Hermès continues to defy any trend of falling revenues amongst other similarly situated houses. The brand, which saw off a takeover campaign from luxury conglomerate LVMH last year, reported first-half sales of $2.53 billion, up from $2.09 billion last year. Hermès is performing particularly well in Asia, but the company is also growing rapidly in Europe, where the second quarter brought a 9% rise in sales, and in the Americas, which were up 11%.