Nov 10, 2023
More than ever, ateliers and fine jewellery houses are attracting the interest of major luxury players. Rumours and announcements bounce from one week to the next in this booming sector, which represents an increasingly important and profitable growth lever for the luxury industry. The latest deal is that of Boucheron, announced on November 6. The historic jeweller owned by Kering has acquired four Parisian workshops and manufacturers, namely Blondeau, Belter, Chanson and FG Développement, which have been brought together in the CG Développement group, which specialises in fine jewellery.
Over the last few years, the luxury goods industry has focused on the fine jewellery segment, which is worth around 28 billion euros, according to the latest study on the global luxury goods market carried out by Bain & Company for Altagamma. The study highlights the sector’s 37% growth between 2019 and 2022. The Italian market alone is worth €13.2 billion, with year-on-year growth of 22.1% in 2022 and 55.3% in 2021, according to the report published in the spring by the Club degli Orafi Italia, an association of the country’s largest goldsmiths and silversmiths. With exports worth €9 billion, Italy is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fine jewellery.
Eager to get in on the action, most luxury houses have developed their own lines of fine jewellery. Following in the footsteps of Chanel Group, which launched its first collection in 1932, then a full-fledged Chanel Joaillerie line in 1993, Christian Dior in 1998 and Louis Vuitton in 2009, a number of other houses have moved into this niche, including Dolce & Gabbana in 2012, Giorgio Armani and Gucci in 2019, and Fendi this year. Since then, the industry has been investing in its supply chain, as it has done with textiles, clothing and leather goods, buying out or acquiring majority stakes in its suppliers.
The aim is to consolidate and gain control of its own supply chain in order to preserve it, while at the same time enabling it to strengthen its sustainable approach. This is also the best way to secure the production chain. In the high-end jewellery segment, which has revealed its strong growth potential, securing qualified expertise has become essential. Therefore luxury labels and the jewellery houses of major groups, are jumping at the chance to acquire the most highly qualified and renowned workshops in France and Italy.
As Luca Solca, an analyst at Bernstein, recently pointed out at a conference, this is putting the entire sector in difficulty. “A small luxury jewellery brand recently told me that it was having great difficulty finding a specialist manufacturer for a certain type of treatment. Its first supplier for this type of work had been bought by Cartier, the second by Tiffany and the third by Bulgari,” he reported. Indeed, the most specialised Italian SMEs are regularly courted by the luxury giants.
In recent months, there have been rumours of Kering’s potential interest in Milan-based jeweller Vhernier, although nothing has been confirmed. However, according to our information, Vhernier’s main suppliers are being watched very closely by François-Henri Pinault‘s group, as well as by LVMH and Richemont.
“We want to secure our supply. We have also realised that in some highly specialised areas, our suppliers are often better than us,” Toni Belloni, deputy CEO of LVMH, recently told us, referring to the company’s recent acquisitions in the fine jewellery sector.
At the end of 2022, the luxury giant took over the Pedemonte Group, an entity created in 2020 from the merger of several independent jewellery production workshops, combining craftsmanship and technology located in Piedmont, Italy, in Valenza and Valmadonna. A few months earlier, Christian Dior had acquired Oteline in Rilleux-la-Pape and FG Manufacture in Rilleux-la-Pape, two jewellery subcontractors for major brands, located near Lyon, a region with great expertise in fine jewellery.
Also in France, LVMH announced in April that it had acquired a majority stake in Platinum Invest Group, which owns the Orest jewellery group, based in Alsace, and the Paris-based manufacturer Abysse. The aim is to boost production capacity in France for Tiffany & Co, the American jewellery brand to be acquired by the No. 1 luxury goods group in 2021.
In addition to Tiffany & Co, the group also owns Italian jeweller Bulgari, which set up its factory in the Piedmont jewellery district of Valenza in 2017. In the space of six years, the workforce has grown from 380 to 800, and plans to reach a total of 1,400 employees by 2028, doubling its production capacity. Work began at the end of 2022 to add a new 17,500-square-metre structure close to its current factory.
Cartier inaugurated a new facility in Turin in May and launched major renovation work in Valenza to create a site that will employ 650 people. Similarly, the Italian jewellery group Damiani is also expanding in Valenza, where it has been active since its creation, with a new 12,000-square-metre site under construction.
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