image: Louis Vuitton

image: Louis Vuitton

Almost exactly a year ago, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the Paris-based conglomerate that own Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Celine, became France’s biggest company by market value. In nabbing the top spot, the Bernard Arnault-owned group ousted energy giant Total and pharmaceutical behemoth Sanofi, which had shared the title of the most valuable for nearly a decade. 

“A 200 percent rise in value since the start of 2016, and more than 70 percent over the past 12 months, has now put the owner of ‘it bag’ brands within shouting distance of the top five stocks in the [French stock market index] CAC 40,” according to Bloomberg. And LVMH is not alone. Rival Kering – which owns Gucci, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta and sits in the number-7 spot on the CAC – joins LVMH’s “spectacular rise in fortunes, fueled by booming demand from Asia and millennials for designer handbags, flashy shoes and clothes as expensive as jewels.”

Last year alone, Kering’s stock recorded an increase of more than 33 percent, the largest increase of the year on the CAC 40, per French daily newspaper Le Parisien. 

Such growth is “reshaping the French benchmark, long the realm of energy, infrastructure, financial and telecommunications stocks,” with France’s two biggest luxury giants particularly “well managed and more successful than others in attracting new clients globally via e-commerce, without cannibalizing their traditional business,” Christian Guyot, analyst at Invest Securities in Paris, said in an interview.

Meanwhile, holding court in the number-2 biggest company by market value spot is Total, the multinational integrated oil and gas company and one of the seven “Supermajor” oil companies in the world, which dipped to second place last May, prompting French publications to declare: “It’s better to sell Dior dresses and Louis Vuitton bags than to extract and refine oil!”