Digital holdout Celine to finally offer e-commerce

It’s 2017, and LVMH’s Céline will finally offer e-commerce.

The new digital effort will be overseen by the brand’s newly appointed CEO, Séverine Merle, formerly of Berluti. Under Merle’s tutelage, Céline plans to open e-commerce sites in select markets by the end of 2017, despite being known as a digital holdout.

Creative director Phoebe Philo has openly opposed selling products online. Before moving to Céline, Philo was formerly at Chloé, another brand that was particularly slow to wade into e-commerce. Chloé launched its first e-commerce site in July 2016, after offering select products in partnership with Net-A-Porter prior to the launch. “I very much like the idea that shoppers experience a Céline product in a Céline store,” Philo said during a panel discussion in 2014.

So far, Céline’s push into digital includes its newly launched Instagram page, which shared its first post on February 27 with the caption “One step.” The brand followed this with an additional six photos from the its spring and summer 2017 collection, largely comprised of footwear. The account already has 39,000 followers.

One step. #celine

A post shared by Céline Official (@celine) on

Céline’s foray into digital also points to larger efforts within LVMH to focus on digital offerings, as indicated by its efforts over the past year. Though the company has refused to participate in e-commerce ventures like Amazon Fashion, it has experimented with specialized apps, like the Bulgari Vault, and featured interactive video campaigns with brands like Fendi. The Vault helps affluent consumers make secure mobile purchases of, say, $25,000 watches using customized security measures. LVMH is also investing in startups — it hosted its first Luxury Lab event last July, showcasing 50 emerging companies, including Orchard Mile.

“Digital has become a top priority at LVMH. I think it is appropriate that Céline also catches up with digital luxury developments,” said Luca Solca, managing director of global luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas. “LVMH has a long talent bench, so it’s no big surprise that the new CEO is an internal appointment.”

Though LVMH does not share performance by brand, it noted Céline’s strong progress in its 2016 annual report, citing growth in footwear and ready-to-wear lines, as well as its boutique expansion: It opened up shop in Spain and the re-opening of its Milan flagship. According to WWD, Céline has more than quadrupled its sales under Philo, with estimated revenue of more than $844 million.

This story was updated on February 27 to reflect Céline’s new Instagram account. 

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