Dupont to make pens for Louis Vuitton

PARIS - S.T. Dupont will supply pens to Louis Vuitton as part of the French luxury brand’s fresh push into stationery to be unveiled in mid-December, sources close to the matter said.

The move will pit Louis Vuitton, owned by LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury group, against one of the market’s top luxury pen makers, Richemont’s Montblanc.

The deal between the Paris-listed maker of luxury lighters and pens and Louis Vuitton “ i s quite sizeable in terms of revenue” for S.T. Dupont, a source close to the company told Reuters, declining to be named or provide more detail.

Shares in S.T. Dupont were up 8.8 percent at 0.37 euros by 1350 GMT on Wednesday.

Both companies declined to comment.

S.T. Dupont, which makes pens in a factory in the French Alps, will provide Louis Vuitton with a wide variety of writing instruments, including fountain pens designed so they can be used in pressurised aircraft cabins without running.

Louis Vuitton, which is seeing flagging sales in major markets such as China as consumers start to feel jaded with a brand that has become ubiquitous, needs to look constantly for ways to retain its exclusive image, analysts say.

The French brand, known mainly for its LV-embossed handbags, branched out into ready-to-wear with designer Marc Jacobs in 1997 and later into watches and jewellery.

Last summer, Louis Vuitton opened a boutique in Paris’jewellery mecca, Place Vendome, right next to rivals Van Cleef & Arpels, another Richemont brand, and PPR’s Boucheron.

Louis Vuitton, which made pens in the mid-1990s but phased them out, has big ambitions for its new collection, which will include alligator-skin fountain pens, customised stationery, bright inks, writing pads and Baccarat crystal ink wells.

RIGHT SPOT

“This will be the biggest collection (of writing instruments) ever,” a source close to the brand said.

The plans were first reported by Reuters last month.

Preparations for the new venture come as ex-Danone executive Jordi Constans became head of Louis Vuitton this week, replacing Yves Carcelle, who ran the brand for 22 years.

Carcelle will remain a member of LVMH’s executive committee and run the Fondation Louis Vuitton, a museum being built near the Bois de Boulogne in Paris by architect Frank Gehry.

Once it has begun selling pens in Paris, Louis Vuitton hopes to open shops dedicated to stationery and writing instruments in New York and Tokyo, sources close to the brand said.

“The key will be finding the right spot in those two cities,” one source said. “It is not that easy.”

In Paris, Louis Vuitton will sell its new pens and stationery in a boutique tucked away in a side street next to new premises on Boulevard Saint-Germain where it recently started hosting exhibitions and conferences dedicated to writing and travel.

Sources close to Louis Vuitton said this was designed to avoid ruffling the feathers of Parisians who resent watching the Saint-Germain literary quarter being turned into a luxury goods cluster following the arrival of Burberry and Ralph Lauren, among others.

Louis Vuitton’s new site is sandwiched between tourist hotspots Cafe de Flore and Cafe Les Deux Magots, made famous by the writers and philosophers among their clientele in the 1940s and 1950s, and which award literary prizes every year.

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