Bikinis, Arnault and family control


Bernard Arnault, the king of world luxury, has just added another family business to his huge collection of top brands.

Through his Singapore-based private equity group L Capital Asia, Arnault has just acquired a 49.9% stake in the Australian bikini-maker and swimwear brand Seafolly for an undisclosed sum.

Arnault, who controls the world’s biggest luxury group in terms of revenue LVMH, likes buying family businesses and Seafolly fits the bill. Launched in 1975, the Sydney company is now in its second generation of control.

Anthony Halas took over the reins of the company from his mother and father in 1998. Halas told the Australian media that he finally succumbed to a sale after being constantly approached by potential buyers.

Arnault has often said that he likes buying family businesses because of their long-term commitment to quality and their customers. At least half of the huge number of luxury brands under the LVMH umbrella started off as family businesses and many of them still have family members working for them.

Yet his biggest target in the family business arena has so far eluded him. A few years ago he launched an audacious bid for Hermès, arguably France’s most prestigious luxury brand.

After a staunch defence from family members, Arnault was forced to sell his holding and give up his goal to merge the sixth generation business with LVMH.

Maybe that’s something for the next generation of Arnaults.