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Louis Vuitton Rises, Gucci Slips in Brand-Valuation Study

Louis Vuitton, the French maker of laminated canvas handbags, is the world’s most valuable luxury brand for the sixth consecutive year, a research group said.

The brand, owned by Paris-based LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, has a value of $24.3 billion, an increase of 23 percent from 2010, according to Millward Brown Optimor’s 2011 BrandZ study published today. That’s almost as much as the combined values of Hermes, Gucci and Chanel, which ranked second, third and fourth in this year’s luxury-brand standings.

Vuitton’s value amounts to almost 28 percent of LVMH’s market capitalization. The brand is benefiting from demand for status symbols in developing markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, and the perception in Europe and the U.S. that its products are exclusive, said Cristiana Pearson, a director at Millward Brown Optimor who led the study.

“As we continue to come out of the recession, people will continue to spend more on luxury, and the BRIC countries don’t look like they’re slowing,” with growth in Brazil and China particularly strong, Pearson said by phone from London.

Hermes International SCA, in which LVMH holds a 20.2 percent stake, posted the biggest increase in brand value in the luxury industry with a 41 percent jump to $11.9 billion, according to the BrandZ study. Florence, Italy-based Gucci’s value declined 2 percent to $7.45 billion, affected by French parent PPR SA’s financial performance, Pearson said. Chanel advanced 23 percent to $6.82 billion.

LVMH’s Role

Hennessy, Moet & Chandon and Fendi placed seventh, eighth and ninth in the study, respectively, with values of $3.42 billion to $5 billion, meaning LVMH, the world’s largest luxury-goods maker, owns or has a stake in five of the industry’s 10 most-valuable brands.

LVMH has a lineup of labels “that have very high standards in terms of craftsmanship and that give the impression of very high exclusivity, even in some cases where it may not be so exclusive,” Pearson said.

The Cartier and Rolex brands ranked fifth and sixth in the luxury-brand ranking, while Burberry replaced Tiffany as No. 10. The brand values of Burberry, Chanel and Vuitton benefited from investment in technology, Millward Brown Optimor said.

Vuitton placed 26th worldwide among 100 companies across 13 industries in the BrandZ study. Apple Inc., maker of the iPad tablet, is the world’s most valuable brand, with its estimated value surging 84 percent from a year earlier to $153 billion, according to Millward Brown Optimor.

The study was based on interviews with consumers as well as analysis of company performance.

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