While China’s President Xi Jinping journeyed from the scenic Mediterranean town of Nice to the bright lights of Paris during his official visit to France, the Parisian fashion house LVMH Group announced a significant commitment to his home country. On March 25, LVMH director Antoine Arnault signed an agreement with the China International Import Expo (CIIE) Bureau stating the brand will participate in the next edition of the Chinese organization’s trade show, CIIE 2019, which will take place from November 5 to 10 at the Shanghai National Exhibition and Convention Center.
This is a major move for LVMH because CIIE is not like any other expo. It’s part of China’s wide-reaching “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which works two ways: to facilitate Chinese access to foreign markets, and foreign access to the Chinese market, covering all kinds of trade, and not simply luxury goods. The first edition in 2018 drew over 1 million visitors (from China and abroad), 140 official delegations, and international organizations traveling from 172 different countries. In short, it was a trade fair on the largest scale: of the top 500 global corporations, 222 took part in the CIIE.
So when both French authorities and China’s Vice Premier Hu Chunhua urged the biggest French companies — including LVMH — to participate in the CIIE, the group jumped at the opportunity. “By opening a boutique at the Palace Hotel in Beijing in 1990, we were among the first to believe in the miracle of modern development of China,” said Arnault, who described this agreement as “a clear testimony of our confidence in the long-term vigor of the Chinese economy and our friendship for its people.” LVMH stated that it cherishes “Its vines growing at the foot of the Great Wall,” where it currently has a network of over 550 stores and thousands of outlets in a China luxury market that’s now the largest in the world.
This agreement gives LVMH plenty of exhibition space at CIIE 2019 to showcase its finest products and innovations. However, the company already gave the world a glimpse of its newest technologies during the annual VivaTech technology conference in Paris last year, from its new line of intelligent luggage that can be tracked in real-time via an app to the world’s first champagne sommelier chatbot. Now, many are curious about what LVMH will bring from its luxury lab to wow Chinese visitors. The brand will also bring daily talks, master classes, and product launches to the pavilion.
The second edition of CIIE coincides with the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Beijing and Paris, and after President Xi’s visit to France this March, French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to China in the fall. LVMH understands the importance of these international relations and feels that their participation in the fair goes beyond reasons of standard commerce. When asked about their goals, Antoine Arnault told Jing Daily, “The question isn’t to know if joining the CIIE will help the LVMH Group to achieve its goals in China. The real challenge is to demonstrate our affection and admiration for China, our friendship for its people, and our willingness to partner with its government. That’s the meaning of this important decision we make by signing this letter of intent as part of President Xi’s state visit in France.”