When the French government put the call out for private enterprise to start making medical supplies for hospitals struggling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the billionaire owner of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Moet, Hennesy) knew exactly what needed to be done. Within 72-hours, Bernard Arnault had given the green light to turn a factory that normally makes Christian Dior perfume into an alcohol hand sanitizer production facility.
Starting with just one factory outside Orléans, LVMH has now decided to switch production at two other facilities (normally used for Guerlain and Givenchy) to make the hydroalcoholic gel free of charge for French hospitals and clinics, as well as other critical services including Air France.
Production on the hydroalcoholic gel’s started in next to no time. Within 72-hours of the French government making its plea, LVMH had got a test batch approved by the authorities for mass production. The production started with such haste that LVMH had to repurpose bottles normally used for luxury cosmetics.
On a batch that was shipped to Air France, the hydroalcoholic gel has been quickly pasted over a bottle normally used for the Christian Dior Hydra Life cosmetics brand.
According to the company, up to 12 tonnes of the gel had been donated to hospitals across the Paris hospital system within less than a week. In a statement, the company, which also owns brands like Krug, Fendi, and Marc Jacobs amongst many others, said it would “continue to honour its commitment for as long as necessary”.
“LVMH intends to help address the risk of a lack of product in France and enable a greater number of people to continue to take the right action to protect themselves from the spread of the virus,” the statement continued.
The company has also used its contacts in China to get hold of up to 40 million surgical masks with the initial batch of 10 million masks set to reach France within days.
France is the seventh worst-hit country in the world for COVID-19 cases and has so far recorded at least 450 deaths linked to the virus.
Despite a massive slump in passenger demand and an increasing number of travel bans, Air France has committed to operating services to 27 international destinations. The airline is also working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to repatriate as many people to France as possible – so far, more than 100 rescue flights have been organised.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.