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Louis Vuitton-owner LVMH on the future of retail

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Due to social distancing, shoppers wear protective masks while waiting in line outside Louis Vuitton as South Coast Plaza reopens, requiring customers maintain a social distance and wear face masks at South Coast Plaza Thursday, June 11, 2020 in Costa Mesa, CA.

Allen J. Schaben | Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

LONDON — There are questions about the future of retail, but French luxury goods giant LVMH has no doubt what it will look like.

“We see the future being two things: being mostly retail stores, because the client experience in a retail store cannot be matched easily online. As of today, I mean, no one has found the sort of miracle formula that would enable clients to enjoy as much online,” Jean Jacques Guiony, chief financial officer at LVMH, told CNBC on Monday.

“The second point is also to enrich this experience with online content,” he added.

The coronavirus pandemic, and subsequent stay-at-home orders, has led to a significant surge in online shopping and forced many retailers to develop their online offerings at a much faster pace. This dynamic has in turn challenged the need for physical stores.

However, for LVMH, one of the world’s biggest luxury brands, the online offering is just “a complement to the physical experience.”

Guiony said that most customers who visit in store had previously checked the website and could have bought the items they wanted there.

“They get a lot of information, but they come to the store because the store experience is something that cannot be matched on the internet,” he told CNBC’s Charlotte Reed.

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Tiffany & Co. in Vienna, Austria at the most prestigious shopping zone in downtown Wien also called the Golden U at Kohlmarkt street Strasse.

Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

LVMH reported a 17% drop in revenues in 2020 compared to the previous year. The business was impacted not only by local lockdown measures, but also by the prohibitions on international travel. Other brands owned by LVMH include Moet & Chadon, Marc Jacobs, Christian Dior and Bvlgari.

“I don’t know whether we can talk about roaring 20s … the analogy one century after makes me a little bit doubtful, but anyway, I don’t know whether we can talk about that. We can definitely talk about the fact that the business is doing well with most of the client base, be it in Europe, be it in Asia,” Guiony said. “All in all, frankly, we cannot complain.”

LVMH last year completed the acquisition of Tiffany’s, the jewelry brand, in a $15.8 billion deal.

“The integration of Tiffany is not a six-month job, it’s something that will last for a number of quarters and the objective is not just to integrate, is to develop the business up to the level that we think the quality of the brand could generate, so it is a long-term job,” he added.

LVMH shares are up about 32.8% year-to-date.

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