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Lanvin CEO Deneve Ousted

Godfrey Deeny
January 08th, 2009 @ 00:20 AM - Paris

Lanvin has ousted its CEO Paul Deneve, the most senior luxury executive dismissal in France in the current downturn.

Deneve, who joined Lanvin just 30 month ago, has been exiled even though Lanvin posted steady and substantial sales growth in the past few years. Nonetheless, a Lanvin spokeswoman confirmed Thursday to FWD that Deneve had quit the company before Christmas. She cited “diverging opinions” between Deneve and Lanvin’s owner Shaw-Lan Wang, a Taiwanese magazine investor.

No successor has been named to Deneve, though Lanvin sources indicate staff is keen to have a new senior executive on board before the end of January.

Under Deneve and the creative direction of Alber Elbaz, Lanvin has been a critical and commercial hit whose runway shows are among the half dozen most awaited in fashion and whose editorial support, cool actress clientele and general buzz are second to none.

Deneve follows director of business development Frederick Lukoff out of Lanvin. Lukoff is to be Stella McCartney new president and CEO, starting Feb. 23. Deneve joined Lanvin from Nina Ricci in 2006, having previously held executive positions at Courrèges, Apple and Exxon.

Lanvin notched 2007 sales of 108 million Euros, or $146 million at current exchange rates, with a 30 percent growth forecast for 2008, no mean achievement in this market. Gains in the suave new men’s division and strong leather goods sales powered the revenue growth last year.

Lanvin also, finally, got out of the red in 2007 and stayed so last year, though the house has been slow to expand its own retail network, certainly compared to brands in either the LVMH or Gucci Group stables.

Wang did sell Lanvin’s fragrance and cosmetics business to Inter Parfums for 22 million Euros, or $30 million, though not much of these funds were injected into business development.

Lanvin is due to open a London flagship on Mount Street next month, but that will still only make five company-owned stores in Europe and six in Asia. Given the hot reputation of the brand, opening three to four boutiques a year, as Lanvin has done, seemed under-ambitious to many observers.

Neither Wang nor Deneve could be reached for comment, but the latter’s departure will be sobering for executives here. Besides the good financials, Deneve, with his elegant manner and understated authority, looked the part - always useful in fashion, though evidently less so in current times.

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