1997 Hermes SA, France
Known as the world’s ultimate luxury business, Hermès SA is a French manufacturer and marketer of upscale luggage, apparel and accessories. From a 19th-century foundation in leather goods, the company has since diversified into silk goods, ready-to-wear clothing, watches and perfumes. Its ongoing dedication to family ownership and management, impeccable craftsmanship, and careful protection of the brand’s mystique set Hermès apart from most other companies.
From the late 1980s until today, Hermès has been led by Jean-Louis Dumas, a fifth generation family member. He has been credited with building Hermès’ worldwide retailing empire by directing an intense program of geographic expansion. Hermès’ trademark – a horse-drawn carriage – harkens back to its original saddlery business.
Founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermès, the firm gained reputation as a producer of one-of-a kind saddlery for European noblemen and the first two generations focused on this business.
Based on family consensus, Hermès made its first stock offering in June 1993. But the family retained over 80% of the equity in the hands of 56 family members. Hermès has been able, despite being risk takers, to stick to the principle of self-financing. To avoid financial dependence on the banks, but still have the capital needed for new projects, Hermès traditionally reinvests approximately 15% of the profits in the company.