Animal rights group Peta has snapped up a stake in French luxury goods retailer Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) in an effort to stop it selling bags and other products made from exotic animal skins.
According to reports, the stake will give Peta the right to attend shareholder meetings and to question the board in front of other shareholders.
Peta – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – confirmed in a statement on its website that it had bought the shares on Thursday (Dec 12).
But it did not say how big a stake it had bought.
LVMH is the group which owns Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, Marc Jacobs and Hennessy cognac, among other high-end brands.
The move by Peta comes in the wake of an investigation by the animal rights group into crocodile farms in Vietnam which allegedly supplied skins to a tannery owned by LVMH.
The probe revealed that reptiles "are confined to tiny pits and sometimes hacked into while they’re still alive and thrashing", said Peta.
As a result, it said, "Peta has become a shareholder of LVMH on the Euronext Paris to put pressure on the company to stop selling exotic skins merchandise."
Said Peta president Ingrid Newkirk: “Every Peta expose of the exotic-skins industry has found sensitive living beings crammed into filthy pits, hacked apart, and left to die.
“From demonstrating on the street to speaking up in the boardroom, Peta will push LVMH to stop selling any bag, watchband, or shoe made from a reptile’s skin.”
Peta's expose has been viewed almost 700,000 times on YouTube.
LVMH was not immediately available for comment, Britain's Independent said.
Commenting when Peta's video was released last month, LVMH's director of environment, Sylvie Bernard, said that its tannery, Heng Long, had not bought crocodile skins from any Vietnamese farms since 2014.
"We have no knowledge of a partner that would practice the method you referred to... any cruel method involving the suffering of the animal is in clear contradiction with our principles and rules," she said.
Peta has previously bought stakes in luxury goods houses, including Prada, said the BBC.