In October 2017 local officials confirmed that Louis Vuitton would be opening a facility in Johnson County, Texas, its first in the state. That month Johnson County approved Louis Vuitton’s request for a 10-year, 75% tax abatement (which was estimated at approximately $91,900 annually), the Cleburne Times-Review reported.
In the lead-up to the grand opening, Arnault attended President Trump’s first State Dinner, and Louis Vuitton signed the administration’s Pledge to America’s Workers. Then a week before the ribbon-cutting, scheduled for October 2019, the White House announced that the president would visit Louis Vuitton’s new factory on opening day. Which leads us to…
Louis Vuitton Rochambeau Ranch officially opened its doors on October 17. Six specific handbag and backpack styles will be produced at the facility, all of which will have the Made in USA tag. Louis Vuitton currently employs around 150 people at Louis Vuitton Rochambeau Ranch, with the goal of creating 1,000 jobs there over the next five years, the Dallas Morning News reports.
President Trump, Arnault, and Louis Vuitton chairman and CEO Michael Burke were all present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, as were White House advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
“This shows two commitments: One, the commitment of LVMH to the American market, and two, the commitment of President Trump to the American worker,” Arnault said, according to WWD, estimating that LVMH’s investment in the U.S. comes in at over $1 billion.
In his remarks, President Trump joked, “Today, we continue the extraordinary revival of American manufacturing, and we proudly celebrate the opening of the brand-new Louis Vuitton—a name I know very well. It cost me a lot of money over the years.”
Already, Louis Vuitton executives tiptoed around the political implications of the photo opp. Arnault told WWD, “We are very honored to have the president of the United States. I’m not here to judge any types of policies. I’m here to work with my brand and we are going to, over five years, have 1,000 people working here and that’s what matters.” Burke, meanwhile, insisted to the publication that this partnership is “about jobs, it’s not a political statement. This is about engaging with the president of the United States’ overriding economic goal of bringing jobs back to the United States…. It’s ironic that it’s a French company that’s doing it. There’s a subject…for those who want to be critical. Once again we’re helping out America. That’s what friends are for.”
What’s In It for LV
Yes, there’s the tax abatement—and, as the Wall Street Journal notes, a way around trade disputes affecting the European Union. But according to Louis Vuitton, the opening of a Texas facility is more about better serving one of its most important markets.