March 20, 2017 / 5:24 PM / 5 months ago

LVMH buys Maison Francis Kurkdjian stake in luxury perfume push

A woman walks past a store of the Louis Vuitton brand in Paris, France, March 3, 2017.Regis Duvignau

PARIS (Reuters) - French luxury goods company LVMH (LVMH.PA) has agreed to buy a majority stake in French independent perfume house Maison Francis Kurkdjian as it expands in fast-growing niche luxury fragrances.

LVMH did not disclose financial terms of the deal with Maison Francis Kurkdjian, which was founded in 2009 by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian and its Chief Executive Officer Marc Chaya.

"The acquisition by LVMH of a majority interest in Maison Francis Kurkdjian will allow the fragrance house to pursue its growth, in particular in international markets," LVMH said in a statement announcing the purchase on Monday.

Chaya told a conference call the perfume label, whose largest market is the United States, wanted to develop in China and Russia, and accelerate its digital expansion. Chaya and Kurkdjian will continue in their roles and remain shareholders.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian, with estimated annual sales of between 15 and 20 million euros, has two stores in Paris, four in Taiwan, one in Malaysia and another in Dubai.

Its perfumes, which cost up to 1,200 euros ($1,290) for 70 millimeters, are sold in more than 500 select locations in more than 40 countries, including Bergdorf Goodman, Aedes Perfumery, C.O. Bigelow Apothecary and Neiman Marcus in New York.

The global perfume market is growing at an annual rate of 2 percent to 3 percent, but sales of niche perfume brands have surged 15 percent as consumers increasingly favor rare and upmarket fragrances.

Estee Lauder, which bought labels such as By Killian and Editions de Parfums Federic Malle, and L'Oreal (OREP.PA), which bought IT Cosmetics, have been very active in snapping up these fast-growing brands in recent years.

The perfume and cosmetics brands division at LVMH had 2016 sales of 4.953 billion euros, a reported year-on-year rise of 6 percent. The division notably includes Parfums Christian Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy Parfums, Acqua di Parma and Kenzo Parfums.

Editing by David Clarke

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