Chanel has acquired its long-time lamb hide provider, French tannery Bodin-Joyeux, in the latest purchase by a luxury brand of a partner that supplies top quality materials.
Chanel, which belongs to the Wertheimer family, is the second biggest luxury brand in the world, behind Louis Vuitton and ahead of Ralph Lauren, with nearly 6 billion euros ($8 billion) in estimated annual sales.
Like rival Hermes, Chanel has been buying up partners to guarantee long-term supplies and control quality, from plant growers for its Chanel No.5 perfume to embroiderers such as Lesage for its couture collections.
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The trend toward vertical integration—control from the raw material to the shop shelf—gives luxury brands a competitive advantage, raises barriers to entry and helps them defend the high-quality image they want associated with their products.