As a provider of insurance services to major luxury groups such as Gucci, Hermès, LVMH and L’Oréal, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty France has developed an innovative transport solution tailored to the specific needs of luxury segments, including fashion, perfumes & cosmetics, leather, design, tableware, and wine & spirits.
Global luxury goods insurance services
France is currently the global leader in the luxury goods sector, with a market share estimated at 34% – far ahead of Italy (20%) and the United States (14%), according to the study "Un Plan pour la Façon Française" published in May 2009.
Of the most prestigious luxury houses, six post sales of over a billion euros annually. They include Gucci, Hermès, LVMH and L'Oréal, all of whom are clients of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty France for their transport, property and liability insurance programs. In addition to these major players, several smaller corporations as well as a host of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) share this market, which comprises a total of some 20,000 companies.
"AGCS France's ambition is to be the benchmark insurer in its market for the luxury industry, by creating a range of dedicated products and services," says key account manager and business developer Jean-François Romain. "This April, we're launching a transport insurance solution for SMEs in luxury goods sectors including fashion, perfume & cosmetics, leather goods, design, tableware, and wine & spirits. Developed specifically for companies with sales of more than 20 million euros, this solution carries guarantees common to all these sectors as well as coverage that is specific to each of them."
Insurance solutions that meet luxury standards
With his fifteen years of experience in luxury goods transport insurance, Romain has an in-depth knowledge of the market and its needs. "SMEs are rarely insured for transport-related risk, because the insurance policies on offer are not sufficiently tailored to their needs and operating methods," he explains. "And yet a major disaster can be fatal to their business, partic ularly in the current economic climate (see box above). Thanks to our dedicated transport insurance solution, we can offer complete coverage for all risks related to their business, without conditions. Our coverage contributes to an SME's long-term viability and reassures the luxury goods groups who are its customers."
Romain cites the example of a label supplier for a new perfume bottle who fails to deliver on time due to transport problems, compromising the launch of its customer's product. "Our insurance solution covers this type of risk. We will insure SMEs in the luxury sector even under the most extraordinary circumstances, because we understand their constraints. Likewise, although we will advise certain safety and prevention measures, we don't make them a condition of insurance. In any case, these are high-quality risks from our perspective because luxury goods companies tend to have extremely high professional standards."
More dedicated solutions to come
AGCS France will market its transport insurance solution through a variety of intermediaries. These include key luxury industry brokers whose current clients, including subcontractors, may be interested; the Colbert Committee, an association of over 70 luxury companies; Colipa, the European cosmetics association; and the Confédération des Arts de la Table (CAT, the French tableware association). On the heels of this new transport insurance solution other new products will be developed, with the goal of offering a dedicated range for all luxury goods companies.
Areas covered by luxury transport
Return to growth in 2010 for the luxury industry
According to a study by French marketing consultancy Xerfi, the luxury sector should see a return to high levels of growth in 2010-2015, thanks notably to higher consumption in emerging economies and to new diversification and distribution strategies deployed by the industry's major players.
Following four years of strong growth (an average of 7.5% according to market analysts Eurostaf), the global luxury industry, largely dominated by French companies, stagnated in 2008 (up a mere 0.3 %) then went into decline in 2009. The impact of the global economic crisis has varied according to the size and activity of the companies in this sector. Although the major groups have survived relatively unscathed, other companies have been forced to take various measures, from staff redundancies or reduced work hours to even the possible sale of the company.
In France, it is the piece workers, workshops and other subcontractors for the major brands who are currently the worst hit. In his speech to a meeting of major luxury and fashion houses on November 18th last year, Christian Estrosi, Minister of the Economy, Industry and Employment, said that French fashion manufacturing was "particularly under threat". In 2009, orders for French subcontractors were down 25 to 30% on average. The government has taken certain short- and medium-term measures to safeguard and strengthen the economic situation of these SMEs, whose activities are vital to ensure France's continuing global leadership in the luxury goods industry.
Click here to enlarge image (data source: Bain & Company).