Chanel has long reigned as one of the world's most prestigious brands. Unlike virtually all of its rivals, it has never fallen out of style even if it may have occasionally fallen out of fashion. Inevitably much of the credit goes to Coco Chanel's personal, ground-breaking originality in the 1920s and 1930s, but for over 35 years until his death in 2019 it was Karl Lagerfeld who carried the torch for the House of Chanel. Yet arguably the real core of the brand is no longer its apparel but its fragrance portfolio, and above all, Chanel No 5, indisputably the world's most famous perfume, and almost certainly the most successful fragrance ever bottled. This flagship product is accompanied by a supporting cast of variants including Allure and Egoiste for men, Chance, Coco and Coco Mademoiselle and 2017 launch Gabrielle. The company has successfully extended its range into cosmetics and skincare. The business is controlled by press-shy brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, whose grandfather Pierre - then owner of France's Bourjois cosmetics company - oversaw the first commercial manufacture of Chanel No 5 in the early 1920s. The Wertheimers managed to retain control of the perfume over the next three decades despite a series of legal challenges from Chanel herself, and they later funded the relaunch of her fashion business in the 1950s until her death in 1971. They also control a small collection of specialist couture ateliers as well as swimwear and lingerie designer Eres, G&F Chatelain watchmakers and famed British gunsmiths Holland & Holland. British men's swimwear brand Orlebar Brown was acquired in 2018. The Wertheimer family's cosmetics brand Bourjois was sold in 2015 to Coty. The group published financial information for the first time in 2018. For 2019, revenues were almost €12.3bn, with net profit of €2.4bn; both best-ever figures. Europe and Asia each account for around 40% of sales. However sales tumbled to €10.1bn in Covid-impacted 2020, and net profit to $1.4bn. The biggest hit came from Europe where revenues slumped by more than a third. Leena Nair succeeded Alain Wertheimer as group CEO in early 2022. Bruno Pavlovsky is president of Chanel Fashion. Francoise Montenay is chairman of the supervisory board. Virginie Viard, formerly Lagerfeld's longtime lieutenant, now leads the Chanel fashion business in his place.
Capsule checked 8th February 2022
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Historical profile information for Chanel
Marketer Moves 15th Dec 2021: New CEO at Chanel. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 13th Jan 2020: "Take Your Chance". The stylistic fingerprints of legendary art director and photographer Jean-Paul Goude are all over this bright new campaign for Chanel's youthful Chance sub-brand. This is the man who effectively "invented" Grace Jones in the 1980s, and there's a pleasantly retro feel to the new campaign, which follows in the same general theme as Goude's last for Chance a year ago, riffing on the concept of catwalk models' "go-see" auditions.
Adbrands Daily Update 19th Feb 2019: Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, the creative force behind the Chanel label for over 35 years, has died at the age of 85. The cause of death has not yet been disclosed. Lagerfeld failed to make an appearance at Chanel's couture show last month, saying he was "feeling tired". According to reports he was admitted to hospital in Paris yesterday and died this morning. Virginie Viard, Lagerfeld's creative collaborator for more than 30 years, will take over control of the Chanel fashion business, though she has not yet been confirmed as creative director. Incredibly, Lagerfeld was also at the same time creative director of the LVMH-owned fashion business Fendi. His successor there has not yet been named.
Adbrands Social Media 7th Jan 2019: "Take a New Chance". It's great to see that legendary photographer and stylist Jean-Paul Goude - 80 next year - is still busy in the image business. He's best-known, of course, for his long creative and romantic partnership with Grace Jones in the 1980s and 1990s; but also for his work over many decades with Chanel. In 1992, for example, he created that extraordinary ad for the fashion house with Vanessa Paradis as a tiny human canary in a gilded cage, and has returned repeatedly over the years to unveil new creations. Age seems to be no impediment; Chanel, after all, is far from being no country for old men with 85-year-old Karl Lagerfeld still at its creative helm. Goude's latest for Chanel Chance - the sub-brand with which he has been most associated in recent years - is an entertaining riff on the idea of the fashion model casting call.
Adbrands Weekly Update 1st Sep 2016: Chanel suffered a sharp decline in revenues and profits last year as a result of the contraction in the global luxury market. According to financial results for 2015 filed with the chamber of commerce in Amsterdam, where fashion and leather goods division Chanel International BV is registered, revenues slipped 17% to $6.24bn while operating profits tumbled 23% to $1.6bn. However, net profit was down only 7% to $1.34bn. Those figures are not thought to include sales of perfumes and cosmetics, which are managed by a separate legal entity, registered in France. French business daily Les Echos said sales of these items fell 21% in 2015 to $2.91bn. The decline in performance might help to explain the unexpected dismissal of CEO Maureen Chiquet at the beginning of this year over so-called "strategic differences". The Chanel empire is privately owned by secretive billionaire brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer.
Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Jan 2016: In a surprise development, American executive Maureen Chiquet was ousted as global CEO of Chanel after nine years in that role, apparently as a result of a disagreement over strategic direction with the group's owners, Alan and Gerard Wertheimer. She will not be directly replaced and chairman Alan Wertheimer will assume her duties. Despite her title and nine years at the head of the global Chanel organisation, Chiquet has had only limited involvement with the creative side of Chanel's fashion business. Chief designer Karl Lagerfeld has always insisted on operating independently, reporting only to the Wertheimers. Asked this week by trade bible WWD whether the departure of the group CEO would affect him, he claimed "I hardly knew her. We didn't really work with her."
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