Don’t Bet Against LVMH in China Slowdown, Chairman Arnault Says

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s largest luxury-goods maker, is confident it can adapt to deteriorating market conditions, particularly in China, according to billionaire Chairman Bernard Arnault.

“The group has always been at its best economically during tough times,” Arnault said today in an interview with Bloomberg Television at a preview of the new Fondation Louis Vuitton contemporary art museum in Paris. “We are ready.”

LVMH this week reported slowing growth in Asia as Chinese shoppers curbed spending on Vuitton handbags and Hennessy cognac. Fewer tourists are shopping in Hong Kong because of pro-democracy protests, while a government crackdown on lavish spending has weakened consumption in China, leading Bain & Co. to predict global sales of personal luxury goods will rise this year at the slowest pace since 2009.

“We have to adapt” to the slowdown in Asia, Arnault said. “Our goal is to be number one in 20 years from now, as we are today. So we have time.”

The Fondation, which was designed by architect Frank Gehry and will open to the public Oct. 27, will house a permanent collection of artwork as well as hosting temporary exhibitions and musical events. The goal is to attract 1 million visitors a year to the site in the Bois de Boulogne park, Arnault said.

LVMH’s “economic success is based on creativity,” Arnault said. “Since the beginning, I thought it was important to give back to the world, to the public, to the customers, to the shareholders, to the employees of the group, part of what they brought to us.”

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