PARIS – As a sign of its growing commitment to sustainable development, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has appointed Hélène Valade as its new director of environmental development, as of this week.
Valade reports to Antoine Arnault, who will now oversee the environment department in addition to his duties as head of group communication and image, CEO of Berluti and chairman of Loro Piana.
“Respect for the environment is an essential subject for the group. This is one of our priorities for the years to come and it was important that a family member play this role and represent that commitment, ”Arnault told WWD.
Valade succeeds Sylvie Bénard, who served as LVMH’s environmental director for 26 years and will retire later this year. In this capacity, she oversaw the creation in 1992 of the environment division of LVMH, until now supervised by the group’s CEO Antonio Belloni.
Valade joins the luxury group from the French water and waste group Suez, where she was director of sustainable development since 2014. Since 2018, the manager is also president of the corporate social responsibility network of ORSE , as well as member of the board of directors. of the French environmental protection agency ADEME.
The two women will work together to ensure a smooth transition, LVMH said. One of Valade’s major objectives will be to define the “LIFE 2030” group’s roadmap of environmental objectives for the next decade.
The LVMH Initiatives for the Environment (LIFE) program, launched in 2012, covers all stages from product design to commercial operation and is now an integral part of the strategic plans of all LVMH brands, including Louis Vuitton, Dior , Fendi, Sephora, Guerlain, Bulgari and Dom Pérignon.
In his traditional New Year’s greetings to the leaders and employees of the group, Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH, said on Monday that the company was adding a fourth pillar to its core values of creativity, excellence and spirit of company: a commitment to solidarity, diversity and environmental excellence.
Antoine Arnault, the son of the luxury titan, played a key role in LVMH’s decision last year to take a minority stake in Stella McCartney’s eponymous label and to name the British designer, known for her environmental commitment, as special advisor to Bernard Arnault and members of the executive committee.
The group also appointed Yann Arthus-Bertrand, photographer and director known for raising public awareness of environmental issues, as a member of the advisory board, and hired Ismaël Emelien, former special advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron, as a consultant on green subjects.
Antoine Arnault said the group approached its environmental ambitions with humility and determination.
“I don’t pretend to be some kind of high priest of the environment. I familiarize myself with this world. I’m going to try to put the information together and understand what’s at stake for a large group like ours, so it’s going to take some time, ”he said.
“I want us to continue to strive to be exemplary in this area. I know we are not perfect so it will take a little patience. But I prefer to take the time to understand the issues and act afterwards, rather than making announcements about actions that might be meaningless or so far away that they cannot be quantified, ”added Arnault.
At an event during Paris Fashion Week in September dubbed “Future Life”, LVMH announced the launch of a raw material sourcing charter for animal products such as fur and leather. But the event was overshadowed by comments from Bernard Arnault criticizing climate activist Greta Thunberg for being too “pessimistic”.
At the time, Antoine Arnault explained why LVMH had refused to sign the “Fashion Pact” led by rival French luxury group Kering at Macron’s request. He said it didn’t make sense for the group to be bundled with fast fashion and sportswear brands such as Inditex, H&M and Nike.
Speaking to WWD on Wednesday, he said LVMH will continue to move forward at its own pace. “Every decision we make has a domino effect on the environment, whether positive or negative. We cannot take this kind of decision lightly, ”he said.