PARIS: Luxury behemoth LVMH, owner of high-end fashion, and high-end beverages, is investing in younger companies working in the luxury sector, including counterfeit detection software and new materials firms.

The company said it would unveil a startup program, based in Paris, which will allow LVMH a relationship with 50 young businesses every year. According to Reuters, the brand will host its new charges on a ‘mega-campus’ where they will be able to collaborate with LVMH brands.

Like L’Oreal before it, LVMH will begin this relationship through an investment in Station F, a startup incubator on a massive scale that provides rent-free space.

“The idea is to animate and activate those conversations around the things that might affect the luxury industry,” said Ian Rogers, the company’s chief digital officer who joined from Apple Music in 2015.

The choice of Paris carries political implications. The UK’s approaching exit from the European Union has a number of the bloc’s cities angling to catch London’s startup scene after 2019. Rogers stated that operations would be based in the capital – “it’s our home, and it’s in a unique moment right now”.

In addition, President Emmanuel Macron has been bullish on labour reform, with the ambition of relaxing regulations and encouraging small, fast-moving companies.

Station F launched in 2017 with the backing of Xavier Niel, a billionaire, and the partner of an LVMH executive, Delphine Arnault – also the daughter of LVMH CEO and Chair, Bernard Arnault.

Explaining the move, Mr. Arnault explained the company’s rationale, in comments reported by Bloomberg. “Innovation and creativity are fundamental values for LVMH”, he said, though he added that the impetus was also more directly commercial, allowing the brand to reach clients.

The brands showcasing at the event hinted at some of the challenges that luxury faces, including technology to guard against counterfeits and young firms creating new materials – one of which patented a new technique to let silkworms spin shapes onto moulds.

Sourced from Reuters, Financial Times, Bloomberg; additional content by WARC staff