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, but for more than 35 years it is Karl Lagerfeld who has carried the torch for the House of Chanel. Yet 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. The flagship product is accompanied by a supporting cast of variants including Allure, Mademoiselle and 2017 launch Gabrielle, and the company has successfully extended its range into cosmetics and skincare. The group 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 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. Men's swimwear brand Orlebar Brown was acquired in 2018. Cosmetics brand Bourjois was sold in 2015 to Coty. The group published financial information for the first time in 2018, revealing revenues of $9.6bn in 2017, with net profit of $1.8bn. Europe and Asia each account for around 40% of sales. The business is overseen by four presidents, reporting to Alain Wertheimer. Bruno Pavlovsky is president of Chanel Fashion. Francoise Montenay is chairman of the supervisory board.
Capsule checked 18th October 2018
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Historical profile information for Chanel
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."
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Dec 2014: Ads of the Week: "Reincarnation". Sometimes, we select a particular ad not because we especially want to, but because it's notable in some way. So we can't overlook this new Chanel meisterwerk, if only for its sheer star power. Designer Karl Lagerfeld once again tries to demonstrate his ability as a director of film or even - God help us - music video. However, the results are less like the timeless Hollywood glamour to which Karl seems to aspire than a lavish update of one of Andy Warhol's home movies, in which a succession of his BFFs play (not very well) at being actors. There are directors who might be able to coax a decent performance from the stone-faced Pharrell and gamine minx Cara Delevingne, but Karl ain't one of them. The end result, though pretty, is somewhat less than the sum of its parts.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Oct 2014: Ads of the Week: "You're The One That I Want". Undoubted ad event of the week is the new Chanel ad from Moulin Rough and Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann, featuring Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen. There's been much talk from Luhrmann about how he wanted to evolve the image of the "Chanel woman" from the pink and fluffy Nicole Kidman ad he made a decade ago to the all-round career woman/ homemaker/ sporting star depicted here by the ruggedly handsome Bundchen. The new spot is heavy on sentiment, but looks simply gorgeous throughout, and offers saturation coverage of just about every Chanel product going except eyewear. A word of advice to you though, Gisele. That's a super-expensive fragrance you're messing with there, not a room freshener. You may be the world's wealthiest model, but we suggest you get an Air Wick instead. And hey: a Chanel surfboard? Incredible. It will just about fit in my Christmas stocking.
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Oct 2014: Coty opened talks with beauty rival Chanel to acquire its secondary colour cosmetics brand Bourjois, currently a significant rival in Europe to Coty's own Rimmel London. Coty is offering to purchase the business for around $240m in stock. If accepted, the deal would give Chanel a small voting stake in Coty and also forge links between two of Europe's wealthiest but most reclusive families, the Wertheimers who own Chanel and the Reimanns who control Coty as well as luxury group Labelux.
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