LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is the latest group to jump on the accelerating niche fragrance bandwagon, with its acquisition of Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
The French luxury conglomerate said on Monday that it had purchased a majority share in the house created in 2009 by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian and Marc Chaya. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The news confirms a report WWD published on Nov. 14, 2016.
"Motivated by a shared vision of French perfume making and the creativity that inspires it, LVMH and Maison Francis Kurkdjian have announced their association in order to jointly pursue the long-term development of the fragrance house," the companies said jointly in a statement, adding that growth will be pursued especially abroad.
"Their avant-garde spirit and the quality of their creations give this fragrance house great potential and a promising future," said Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian was launched with a line of 25 products and a boutique in Paris. The wide-ranging brand takes a holistic approach to beauty, with a "fragrance wardrobe" — involving everything from eaux de toilette to scented bubbles and textile cleaning products — meant for perfuming a person's life 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Today, Maison Francis Kurkdjian has two stores in Paris, three in Taiwan, one in Malaysia and another in Dubai. Worldwide, it is in more than 40 countries, with more than 30 counters and a presence in almost 500 retailers, including Bergdorf Goodman, Aedes Perfumery, C.O. Bigelow Apothecary and Neiman Marcus in New York.
The perfume label, whose largest market is the U.S., registered retail sales of about $25 million in 2015, up 40 percent versus 2014.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian in January 2016 became a member of Comité Colbert, the association promoting French luxury and know-how.
Kurkdjian is one of the most well-known perfumers of today, having created blockbuster scents such as Jean Paul Gaultier's Le Male and Narciso Rodriguez's Narciso for Her. The perfumer has also conceived perfumes for some of LVMH's own brands, including Acqua di Parma, Christian Dior, Guerlain and Kenzo.
Kurkdjian, who was made a Knight of Arts and Letters in France in 2008, stated: "I have always championed my personal conception of beauty and respect for the métier of perfumer-creator. Maison Francis Kurkdjian lets me freely express my inspirations. LVMH clearly understands the nature of our maison, and the group's approach to custom-crafted creativity guarantees that our distinctive identity will thrive for the long term."
Chaya is a former partner at Ernst & Young in Paris. He and Kurkdjian will continue at Maison Francis Kurkdjian in their current roles of ceo and creative director, respectively. They will also remain shareholders in the company.
LVMH's acquisition is the latest move in the race among multinationals to snap up hot niche beauty labels as the trend for premium products keeps rising. Luxury and super-luxury brands also tend to offer solid growth rates, and they present an alternative for some big companies wanting to move from celebrity or fashion brands.
The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. has been a frontrunner in the charge for niche labels. In February 2016 it acquired By Kilian, while in 2014 it scooped up Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle and Le Labo.
In early January 2016, Puig purchased Penhaligon's and L'Artisan Parfumeur. And last June, L'Oréal acquired Atelier Cologne.
While niche fragrance brands keep cropping up, there are not many today with enough critical mass to put them on the radar of big companies. Some privately held fragrance brands in Europe currently ripe for the picking — though none with a visible for-sale sign at present — include Creed, Memo and Juliette Has a Gun.
LVMH, which was a pioneer in acquiring indie beauty brands in the late Nineties, has currently been more actively developing niche brands through its Kendo division, which functions as an incubator for products that become retailed in the LVMH-owned Sephora perfumery chain, among various outposts.
Other perfume and cosmetics brands at LVMH, which ranked eleventh in the WWD Beauty Inc Top 100 listing of beauty makers for 2015 — with sales of 4.52 billion euros, or $5.01 billion at average exchange — include Christian Dior, Guerlain, Acqua di Parma and Ole Henriksen.