Pension Protestors Storm LVMH’s Paris Headquarters

French pension protestors stormed LVMH’s Paris headquarters Thursday morning, following news that the French luxury conglomerate’s share price had rose 4.6 percent in early trading to hit a record high of €875 ($965).

LVMH’s rocketing stock value, partly attributable to rising sales in China, came after President Emmanuel Macron rammed legislation raising the retirement age in France to 64 from 62 through parliament without a vote on March 16. The move galvanized opposition to the policy and enflamed ongoing protests against the change. Today, a French court will rule on the constitutionality of Macron’s move.

“If Macron wants to find money to finance the pension system, he should come here to find it,” union leader Fabien Villedieu told CNN, referring to the conglomerate’s head office. 

The conglomerate had begun 2023 on a strong note; the reopening of the Chinese economy following three years of strict lockdowns helped LVMH’s Q1 sales grow 17 percent, while in February the group announced that superstar Pharrell Williams would take the helm of Louis Vuitton menswear, one of its portfolio brands. In January, LVMH became the first European company to surpass €400 billion in market value.

LVMH’s climbing share price propelled CEO Bernard Arnault’s net worth past $200 billion earlier this week, making him the world’s wealthiest person by far. Second is Elon Musk with $188 billion. 

French citizens meanwhile have struggled with inflation and stagnant wages. In October 2022, protestors went on strike in response to the skyrocketing cost of living. In January, opponents of Macron’s pension reform ignited a series of protests and strikes. Garbage piled up on the streets of Paris in March as trash collectors went on strike in opposition to the retirement age policy. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has supported the protests, while Macron’s government says the reform is necessary to balance the pension budget. 

LVMH has raised its own age limit. Shareholders voted to raise the age limit for a serving CEO from 75 to 80, letting Arnault, now 74, remain at the helm for another few years.