Lagerfeld’s legacy: double-digit growth and €10 billion

Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld delivered French maison Chanel a stunning legacy in the final year of his life.

Chanel, privately owned, has revealed financial information only twice in its 109-year history. But yesterday, finance chief Philippe Blondiaux took the extraordinary step of announcing the brand had achieved global sales of almost €10 billion last year, in an apparent tribute to the designer, who died in February, aged 85. Profit exceeded €3 billion.

The company also achieved double-digit sales growth “with great performances in leather goods and ready-to-wear”. But that was all the notoriously secretive company revealed, other than to reassert the company was not for sale, thus dashing any interpretation the details were released to pique the interest of prospective bidders.

Chanel is owned by the Wertheimer family. Geneva-based Gerard Paul Philippe Wertheimer, 69, controls the business in partnership with his brother, Alain, 70. The former has an estimated worth of US$15.3 billion, with the pair ranking fourth and fifth on France’s rich list and among the 40 wealthiest people on the planet.

Lagerfeld died of cancer, but reportedly worked until the end, such was his passion for his craft.

Analysts estimate Chanel to be worth in the vicinity of $20 billion, making it one of the world’s most valuable fashion brands, and certainly one of the largest still in private ownership.

In turnover, it is catching archrival Louis Vuitton, whose sales exceeded $10 billion last year.

Far from resting on its laurels, Chanel invested an estimated $1 billion in digital innovation last year, embracing online, social media and seamless online/offline integration and in-store technology.

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