Louis Vuitton chief executive Yves Carcelle said on Friday that the French luxury brand was ready to withstand financial turmoil, with demand for its products on the rise even amid global uncertainty.

"/> Louis Vuitton chief executive Yves Carcelle said on Friday that the French luxury brand was ready to withstand financial turmoil, with demand for its products on the rise even amid global uncertainty.

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AUSTRALIA

Louis Vuitton boss shrugs off financial gloom

Louis Vuitton chief executive Yves Carcelle said on Friday that the French luxury brand was ready to withstand financial turmoil, with demand for its products on the rise even amid global uncertainty.

Speaking at the opening of the firm’s new state-of-the-art Sydney showcase store, Carcelle said the first nine months of 2011 were kind to his industry, as if the luxury sector were in a protective bubble outside market turmoil.

“What you see, what you hear in the news everywhere is more that the states are close to bankrupt than the individual,” he said at a press conference to mark store’s opening, attended by Hollywood star Cate Blanchett.

Despite the precarious financial position of some European states, where unemployment was rising and sovereign debt has forced leadership changes, he said that rich people and those with jobs were not seeing their incomes fall.

“It looks like today customers say, ‘Oh, we don’t know what tomorrow will be done. Geez, if I see a nice pair of shoes, nice bag, nice suit or dress that will not change completely my future.

“‘Maybe I don’t buy the big apartment I was dreaming of, or increase the size of my boat, but I can afford a pair of shoes.'”

Carcelle said that luxury customers were ready to spend and were increasingly demanding more sophisticated and personalised products.

He said that planning for the new Sydney store, only the second in the world to offer made-to-measure shoes for men and which will also offer a service allowing customers to design a unique handbag, began in July 2009.

“I remind you, in 2009, when most of the industry was down, we published double digit growth worldwide. Again in 2010,” he said.

He said Louis Vuitton, founded in Paris in 1854, planned for the long term and would never devise a strategy simply to counter short-term problems.

“Yes, I think that one day or another we will have to pay, at least in Europe or in the (United) States for the mismanagement of the states,” he said.

“It’s clear that the debts that our countries have accumulated one day or another will be translated into higher taxes.

“But that’s tomorrow, let’s enjoy today,” he joked.

Louis Vuitton has been in Australia for 25 years but the new Sydney store, one of only 13 “maison” outlets around the world — offering a more elaborate experience such as specially commissioned work by local artists — was testament to the strength of the domestic market, he added.

“People in Europe don’t realise that the Australian clientele is part of the top 10 of the world,” Carcelle said.

“You are far away from the mind sometimes of headquarters in Europe, but you represent a significant market.”


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AUSTRALIA

Macron arrives on rare French presidential visit to Australia

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Australia on Tuesday, with the two sides expected to agree on greater cooperation in the Pacific to counter a rising China.

Macron arrives on rare French presidential visit to Australia
French President Emmanuel Macron leaves his presidential Airbus A330-200: Photo: Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP
Fresh from meeting with President Donald Trump in Washington, Macron touched down for the first foray Down Under by a French leader since François Hollande came to Brisbane for a G20 summit four years ago.
   
His advisers said he wanted to discuss a “common response” to security and climate tensions in the South Pacific, which includes the French territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
 
Macron told reporters he intends to “anchor” the Franco-Australian relationship “strategically, economically, but also scientifically, culturally and linguistically”.
   
He described ties between the two countries as historic, recalling how Australian soldiers helped defend France in World War I and II. 
   
France envisages a “strengthened strategic relationship” through a new axis grouping Paris, New Delhi and Canberra, he told reporters.    
   
French ambassador Christophe Penot said earlier that Paris sees Canberra as a “pivot” for broader involvement in the Indo-Pacific.
   
“What the president will tell your prime minister is that we are ready and willing to do much more with Australia in the South Pacific,” he told the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday.
   
“We must support the South Pacific islands in their development and give them options when they want to develop infrastructure. That doesn't mean we want to oppose China on that. It is just that we want to be complementary and make sure they have all the options on the table.”
   
Australia has become increasingly alarmed at China's push into the Pacific, which could potentially upset the delicate strategic balance in the region.  A senior Australian minister recently called Chinese infrastructure projects in the Pacific “white elephants” while reports last month, that were denied, said Beijing wanted to establish a permanent military base in Vanuatu. Australia's Lowy Institute estimates China provided US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006-16.   
 
Macron will also be keen to talk defence and trade, building on a mega Aus$50 billion (US$37 billion, 31 billion euros) deal agreed in late 2016 for France to supply Australia's new fleet of next-generation submarines.
   
The May 1-3 trip comes hot on the heels of his pomp-filled visit to Washington and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's journey to Normandy for World War I Anzac Day commemorations last month.
   
It will have a strong cultural flavour with France's 40-year-old leader discussing food Wednesday at a lunch with Australian and French chefs. As often on his foreign trips, Macron will also meet local artists, 
specifically Aboriginal artists whose work deals with the climate change — a subject on which Macron, custodian of the 2015 Paris Agreement, has taken a leadership role.
   
Following the Australia visit, the French leader will continue on to the French territory of New Caledonia, where a crucial independence referendum is due in November.
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