Louis Vuitton handbagged for missing City profit targets

The luxury goods sector is still booming but there are signs that shoppers have fallen out of love with established names such as Louis Vuitton.

The French luxury giants LVMH and Kering (previously PPR) both reported first-half numbers yesterday, and while Kering unveiled a forecast-beating 2.3 per cent jump in operating profit to €843m (£727m), LVMH missed analysts' expectations with a 2 per cent profit rise to €2.71bn.

Louis Vuitton, LVMH's flagship brand, has shown signs of stagnation and the group has been trying to halt this by reducing shop openings and raising prices.

LVMH, led by Bernard Arnault, has been buying other brands to lessen reliance on the Louis Vuitton label. This month it paid €2bn for the Italian cashmere brand Loro Piana and it is thought other brands are on its watch list.

Mr Arnault said: "Despite an uncertain European economic environment, LVMH will con-tinue to gain market share thanks to … product launches planned before the end of the year and its geographic expansion in promising markets, while continuing to manage costs."

Kering is in the process of offloading parts of its business that do not fit with its core areas of luxury and sportswear. The Gucci to Puma group has spun off the music and electronics retailer Fnac and is in talks to sell its catalogue business La Redoute. Kering, which bought a 51 per cent stake in the British designer Christopher Kane in January, has appointed a new boss, Alexandre de Brettes, for the small but growing brand which is searching for its first shop in London.

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