LVMH, the world’s largest luxury good group, has set a high bar at the top end of the beauty market. The multinational’s Perfumes & Cosmetics division, including Christian Dior, Givenchy, Guerlain, Benefit Cosmetics and Make Up For Ever posted an 11 per cent hike in reported terms to US$4.46 billion for the first half of the year. The company’s Selective Retailing division, including Sephora and DFS, the world’s leading luxury travel retailer, also boasted a stellar performance over the period with revenues increasing 26 per cent to US$9.25 billion.

A glittering prize that other majors in the luxury fashion sector have long been keeping a close eye on. In February, Kering, the world’s second largest luxury company, announced the launch of Kering Beaute, a new in-house beauty division to leverage its high-end fashion stable, including Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and on-trend jeweller Pomellato. Coty holds the fragrance and beauty license for Gucci, Kering’s biggest money spinner, until 2028, but Kering Beaute quickly showed it meant business by acquiring Creed, the storied high-end fragrance brand in June.

Richemont Group, the Swiss luxury goods group, has also thrown its corporate hat in the ring with the launch of a new beauty division – Laboratoire Haute Parfumerie et Beaute. The multinational’s portfolio operates across three business pillars – luxury watches, jewellery, fashion and accessories. Its watch division includes some of the world’s best-known luxury watch brands such as Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, IWC Schaffhausen and Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Other key jewellery, luxury pen, leathergoods and fashion brands owned by Richemont such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Chloe, Montblanc, Dunhill and Alaia have already built strong reputations in the fragrance sector under license. Coty holds the license for Chloe, one of the world’s blockbuster women’s fragrances, and Montblanc fragrances are a top earner for Inter Parfums. Cartier fragrances have carved out a cult following through juices such as Must de Cartier, Baiser Vole and Declaration and the brand has its own award-winning perfumer, Mathilde Laurent.

Boet Brinkgreve has been appointed CEO of Laboratoire de Haute Parfumerie et Beaute. His 30 year career in the chemicals, fragrance and flavours industries includes international positions in the US, Europe and China and he has a strong track record in driving growth. He joined Firmenich (now DSM-Firmenich),  one of the world’s leading nutrient, fragrances and flavourings companies, in 2007 and was until recently President of Ingredients where he strengthened the company’s natural, renewable and biotech capabilities.

Brinkgreve will report directly to Johann Rupert, Chairman of Richemont. According to Richemont, the new division will “leverage resources across our Maisons to help develop the most refined creations and promising licenses”.

Well-heeled consumers in emerging and developed markets are driving strong growth in the luxury fragrance market and competition is becoming more intense. Coty, for example, has announced it is working on its most ambitious fragrance project yet and bespoke fragrances crafted by leading houses such as Guerlain have made a comeback at the apex of the fragrance market. The Salon de Parfums in Harrods in London is billed as a private and decadent environment filled with the most exclusive and exquisite fragrances.

Richemont has given scant detail about the future of its new beauty division. But Johann Rupert, tapped as the richest man in South Africa on the 2023 Forbes list, commented: “Boet’s role will be instrumental in enabling our Maisons to reach their full potential in this dynamic market, broadening their clientele base whilst enhancing the Maisons’ capabilities to meet the needs of their highly discerning clientele”.

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