LVMH vs. Hermès

For Hermès, LVMH represents everything it is not.

“There is a part of our world that is playing on abundance, on glitz and glamour. And there is another part that is concentrated on refinement, and basically making beautiful objects,” Mr Thomas told the New York Times. “We don’t want to be a part of this financial world which is ruining companies and dealing with people like they are goods or raw materials. It’s not a financial fight, because we would lose that. It’s a cultural fight.”

The “culture of Hermès” sees it shun Chinese assembly lines to employ artisans in France to hand-sew its famous Kellys and Birkins, weave its flagship scarves in Lyon from silk raised on its farm in the mountains of Brazil and have an in-house “nez” who creates perfume from his home near Grasse, the world’s perfume capital in the South of France.

The approach has been spectacularly successful. This month, the group posted a record net profit for 2012 of €740 million, up 24.5pc and well above forecasts, confirming a stellar performance for France’s luxury industry as a whole last year. Up 32pc, the company’s operating margin was the highest since Hermes went public in 1993. Sales in Asia, excluding Japan, rose 36.2pc.