The Great State of Texas is now home to one of the world’s most valuable luxury brands — Louis Vuitton.
President Trump attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of a Louis Vuitton workshop in Alvarado, Texas joined with LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault, Michael Burke, the chief executive officer, Anish Melwani, Lanessa Elrod and 150 Louis Vuitton employees.
“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,” Trump said. “Bernard had faith in that vision — the vision of doing something right here in this incredible state and promised to bring a brand-new factory to the United States. You are a great businessman but also a visionary…you are an artist, really, and this is a great vision you have for the state of Texas.”
Trump toured the Louis Vuitton plant in Alvarado with his elder daughter, Ivanka and her husband Jared and were shown the production of the iconic bags while speaking to workers.
Louis Vuitton is making good on its support of the Pledge to America’s Workers, the educational training program that was launched last year. Apple, FedEx and Boeing are among the 300 companies that have signed up with the aim being to create six million training opportunities. Spearheaded by Ivanka Trump, Pledge to America’s Workers aims to create six million jobs-training opportunities
“Ivanka is responsible for 14 million jobs this year, over the last couple of years, with companies going out and training people. And it’s been an incredible success,” Trump said introducing his daughter. “This workshop will soon employ 500 of the most highly skilled workers anywhere in the world. No one can match the precision and perfection of an American artisan.”
The 100,000-square-foot factory sits on 265 acres named Rochambeau Ranch after a French general who helped the 13 colonies win independence during the American Revolution War. The factory will employ 150 workers with the goods it produces will be tagged “Made in the USA,” but won’t use leather from any Texas cattle.
Every handbag and piece of luggage produced at Louis Vuitton in Texas will be made by hand and stamped with the beautiful words, “Made in the USA!” pic.twitter.com/S3DG6kAADz— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 17, 2019
It is expected to employ about a thousand skilled workers within five years, according to Arnault.
“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 told WWD. “I have always been close to the U.S. since the beginning of the Eighties when I lived here. You remember that France, a beautiful country, was becoming a little bit socialist at the time, and so I tried to find a country where business was welcome. So I lived here in New York, and that’s where I learned to do business in the American way, the efficient way.”
“We are very honored to have the president of the United States. I’m not here to judge any types of policies,” Arnault added. “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.”
Louis Vuitton chose Johnson County because of its central location in the U.S., direct flights between Dallas and Paris, and direct access to the Port of Houston, where the brand will bring in raw materials. The workshop could also help shield Louis Vuitton from future trade battles between the US and the European Union, making the rollout a win-win for the company and the Trump administration. It is also receiving tax incentives and a state pledge to resurface a road to the highway.
Johnson County commissioners approved a tax abatement of 75 percent to recruit Louis Vuitton, while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, through the Governor’s Enterprise Fund, awarded the company $860,000 and a capital fund grant award of $1.1 million for construction.
Arnault was one of the first high-profile French business leaders to meet with Trump in January 2017, just weeks after his election, when he suggested he would consider expanding Louis Vuitton in the Carolinas or Texas.
The American market generates a quarter of LVMH’s sales overall, and it already has two US production sites in California for Louis Vuitton. Louis Vuitton currently has 24 leather goods workshops employing 9,000-plus workers worldwide, all of them in Europe except for three in the U.S.. The San Dimas, Calif., workshop opened in 1990 employs 400, and the Irwindale, Calif., workshop opened in 2011 employs 360. The last workshop to open was in September, in Beaulieu-sur-Layon, France.
First Lady Melania Trump is a big fan of luxury brand and has been seen photographed carrying personalized Louis Vuitton luggage onto Air Force One a few times. She was not present for the ribbon cutting ceremony.