(Bloomberg) -- LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault intends to visit China this month after the country reopened following pandemic-era lockdowns that had hampered luxury sales in one of the world’s biggest consumer markets, according to people familiar with the matter.
The billionaire’s visit would be the first since before Covid, the people said, asking not to be identified when discussing his travel plans. The trip could always be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances, they added. An LVMH representative declined to comment.
The visit coincides with growing concerns about China’s economic recovery, which cooled last month, and follows a slump in the shares of some global luxury companies — from LVMH to Hermes International — after a strong rally earlier this year.
On Wednesday, Arnault lost his perch as the world’s wealthiest individual to Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk after shares in his luxury empire LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE declined in Paris. Planning for the China trip began before last week’s steep declines.
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Beijing has been rolling out the red carpet for global business leaders — including JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon and Musk — to calm fears the country is becoming more hostile toward foreign capital and to counter the political agenda of Western nations urging less reliance on China.
Read more: China Woos Dimon, Musk Amid Pressure on Xi to Boost Economy
Brands are boosting their efforts to court Chinese youth, with big-spending Generation Z expected to make the mainland the world’s top luxury market by 2025 — dethroning the US and Europe. Its shoppers are already some of the world’s most influential, accounting for roughly a fifth of the $325.4 billion global luxury market, according to PwC.
Read more: China’s Big-Spending, Picky Youth Are Global Luxury’s Lifeline
Asia ex-Japan generated 30% of LVMH’s €79.2 billion ($84.8 billion) of revenue last year. The luxury group, which owns Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton among a host of other brands, doesn’t break out its performance in China.
Arnault’s rival Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of Gucci-owner Kering SA, visited China at the start of this year.
Arnault met with China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao in April in Paris. Wang also met with other French business leaders including Hermes Executive Chairman Axel Dumas, according to a commerce ministry tweet.
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