Many luxury groups are scrambling to do their part as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread across the globe. From multi-million dollar donations to manufacturing efforts, here is a look at what some of the biggest names in the fashion/luxury industry – from Milan-based Prada S.p.A. to Paris-headquartered conglomerates LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Kering – are doing to provide aid in this globally-reaching health crisis, which has resulted in roughly 341,500 cases and 15,187 deaths as of March 23, according to the New York Times …
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton
In one of the first major moves in the luxury sphere, LVMH announced on March 15 that “given the risk of a shortage of hydroalcoholic gel in France, [chairman] Bernard Arnault has instructed the LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics business to prepare its production sites to manufacture substantial quantities of hydroalcoholic gel to be provided to public authorities.”
As such, the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerare said that it would “therefore use all the production facilities of its Perfumes & Cosmetics brands (Parfums Christian Dior, Guerlain and Parfums Givenchy) in France to produce large quantities of hydroalcoholic gel,” which will be delivered free of charge to French health authorities … in a commitment LVMH will continue to honor for as long as necessary” in an effort to “enable a greater number of people to continue to take the right action to protect themselves from the spread of the virus.”
Several days later, on March 21, the group revealed that following “the retooling of its Perfumes & Cosmetics production units,” it has pledged to help address the surgical mask shortage France is currently facing. “By virtue of its global distribution network, LVMH has managed to secure an order with a Chinese industrial supplier for a delivery of 10 million masks in France in the coming days (seven million surgical masks and three million FFP2 masks),” the parent to Louis Vuitton, Dior, Celine, and Givenchy, among some 70 other fashion and non-fashion brands stated.
“The order will be repeated for at least four weeks in similar quantities (i.e., approximately 40 million masks),” noting that “in order to secure this order during an extremely tense period and to ensure that production begins today, Bernard Arnault arranged for LVMH to finance the whole of the first week of deliveries, amounting to five million euros.”
The group’s donations have surpassed $2 million, with LVMH allocating $2.3 million to The Red Cross Society of China, alone.
UPDATED (April 8, 2020): LVMH has since announced that Louis Vuitton has reopened 12 of its 16 leather goods production sites in France and will employ 400 artisans to make non-surgical masks for France. “We’re ramping up to make over 100,000 [masks] a week just at Vuitton,” Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton, told WWD. “They’re skeleton crews. You have to start slow. That’s why out of the 4,500 [artisans], there’s only about 400 that are in those 12 sites. About 10 percent of the workforce is back.”
Per WWD, “Burke said Vuitton will use between 20 percent and 30 percent of the masks for its employees, and will donate the remainder to retirement homes. The goal is that we are mask-neutral when it comes to our factories, so we’re not using up any masks in the marketplace.”
In a statement on Sunday, Paris-based conglomerate Kering said that it is “playing its part in combating the Covid-19 pandemic in France.” In addition to various monetary contributions made to organizations in China and Italy, which topped $1.1 million in February, and the contribution of an “undisclosed” sum to Pasteur Institute to fund COVID-19 research, Kering – which owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, and Balenciaga, among other luxury brands – revealed that “in the days ahead, [it] will provide the French health service with 3 million surgical masks, which the Group will purchase and import from China.”
Beyond that, Kering, which issued its preliminary financial estimates in connection with the impact of the coronavirus this past week, said that “the French workshops of [its] Houses Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent are preparing to manufacture masks, while complying with the strictest health protection measures for their staff members, with production getting underway as soon as the manufacturing process and materials have been approved by the relevant authorities.”
According to Reuters, Gucci, whose CEO Marco Bizarri donated 100,000 euros to a range of hospitals in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region, would also produce and donate 1.1 million masks and 55,000 medical overalls to Italy.”
UPDATED (April 9, 2020): Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault “has agreed to a pay cut in the latest example of top executives accepting lower salaries as a gesture of solidarity during the coronavirus crisis,” per Reuters. “Given the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on economic activity, François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering, has decided to reduce the fixed portion of his salary by 25 percent from April 1st, until the end of 2020,” Kering said in a statement.
In addition to cutting his fixed pay, Pinault and Kering Group’s managing director Jean-François-Palus, Group Managing Director “have decided to waive the entirety of the variable portions of their annual remuneration for 2020,” per Kering.
“Today we are mobilizing our workforce and our partners … to produce protective masks and blouses,” Chanel said in a statement, announcing that it would begin manufacturing face masks in its factories in France. According to Reuters, “Chanel also said it would not be putting any of its 8,500 employees into temporary unemployment as it weathers the sharp downtown in economic activity.”
Prada announced that it would fund “two complete intensive care and resuscitation units each to hospitals of Vittore Buzzi, Sacco and San Raffaele” in Milan, which has been hit particularly hard by the virus, with 47,000 confirmed coronavirus patients in the country as a whole as of Sunday, with 4,032 deaths thus far, according to the Telegraph. The brand has also committed to producing “80,000 hospital gowns and 110,000 masks, which will be provided for healthcare professionals in Italy.”
In addition to a $21 million donation, which will go to “public hospitals in the Paris region,” Hermès has vowed to maintain the basic salary for its 15,500 employees worldwide, while also avoiding increases for executive-level salaries over their compensation from last year, and “trimming its planned 2020 dividend to shareholders in response to the coronavirus outbreak.”
Mayhoola for Investments
Mayhoola, the Qatari company that owns Balmain and Valentino, among other brands, is “is supporting two projects to help Italy fight the coronavirus crisis through a donation of 2 million euros,” per WWD. The fund says that it will help “improve the efficiency and security of the Intensive Care Treatment Unit (ICU) at Sacco Hospital in Milan, one of the cities in Italy most affected by the COVID-19,” by making a 1 million euro donation and providing “new negative pressure ventilation installation, which will allow medical staff to safely assist coronavirus patients who need intensive care treatments.” It is also donating 1 million euros to Italy’s Protezione Civile Italiana, the national body in Italy that deals with the prediction, prevention and management of emergency events.
Ermenegildo Zegna Group
The Italian fashion group revealed on April 14 that it will manufacture protective medical overalls with the aim of producing 280,000 units. According to WWD, “Of these, 250,000 pieces will be channeled into the Piedmont region in Italy, responding to an urgent need in fighting the coronavirus, and the remaining 30,000 units will be sent to the Canton Ticino area in Switzerland. Portions of the Italian men’s wear group’s INCO plant in Novara and Consitex in Mendrisio have been converted to accommodate the new production.”
In addition to making donations to purchase ventilators and medical masks for hospitals in Italy, the group says that it has also converted part of its production facilities both in Italy and Switzerland to manufacture sanitary masks to distribute to its employees and those in need in both countries.