A sixth-generation member of the Hermès family and Jean Louis Dumas’ nephew, Axel Dumas took over as chief executive of his family’s Paris listed company in 2014. Previously, he was co-chief executive and head of operations of Hermès International Société, Europe’s third-largest luxury goods group, founded as a saddle and harness maker in 1837.
Dumas was appointed in challenging times for the company. Speaking to the Financial Times he described the spar between Hermès and LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault as “the battle of our generation,” which resulted in Arnault relinquishing his 23 percent stake in the company. Aside from the “neither desired nor desirable” attentions of Arnault, Hermès is on extremely sure commercial footing. Dumas oversees the company at a time of record profitability, as Hermès is a globally regarded company positioned at the pinnacle of the luxury market.
He served as the managing director of operations, chief operating officer, and head of operations & sales at Hermès for three years, from May 2011. Dumas joined Hermès in 1993, having worked for Paribas, now part of BNP Paribas, as a banker in Beijing and New York. Previously, he has held the position of brand commercial director of France, the group’s biggest market accounting for 17 percent of total sales. In the past, he has headed the jewellery department and the leather goods division, the group’s most lucrative division, which contributes half of Hermès’ sales.
Hermès posted a 15 percent rise in net profit for 2018, with its operating income rising 6 percent to €2 billion. In March 2019, the house announced its expansion into skincare and cosmetics by 2020. As a result, Dumas stepped down from his position on L'Oréal's board of directors, with the cosmetics giant citing "a possible conflict of interest."
He studied at Sciences Po in Paris and at Harvard University in the United States.