By Pascale Denis
PARIS (Reuters) - Celine, the only LVMH-owned fashion label without its own e-commerce business, will start offering online sales from a new website next week, two sources close to the matter said.
The French brand joins a growing line of luxury goods players belatedly pushing into e-commerce, shrugging off long-held concerns such an avenue would hurt their image.
Artistic director Phoebe Philo's minimalist, avant-garde designs have turned Celine into one of fashion's most sought-after labels over the past 10 years.
Celine will test the water with its clothing collections, shoes and leather "it-bags" usually costing well over $2,000, one of the sources said.
"The website will launch in France over the course of the coming week," the source said, adding that the e-commerce business would then be rolled out to the rest of Europe and the United States in 2018.
Owner LVMH, the world's biggest luxury goods conglomerate, does not break down sales of individual brands, but analysts estimate Celine's annual revenue at 700 million to 800 million euros ($949 million).
Online sales of luxury goods are set to grow 24 percent in 2017 and make up close to 10 percent of the market, according to consultancy Bain. It forecasts they will represent 25 percent of all luxury sales by 2025.
Online sales have helped fuel revenue growth at brands such as Kering-owned Gucci.
Gucci and rival Louis Vuitton, an LVMH brand, launched new sites in China in recent months, while leather handbag specialist Hermes has recently revamped its online business. LVMH set up a multi-brand e-commerce website earlier this year.
But France's privately owned Chanel remains a major outlier. The label said last week it had no immediate plans to try to sell its famed tweed jackets or quilted leather bags online.
LVMH recently denied an October report that Philo may be close to leaving Celine, though the news has fueled speculation that she could be one of the favorites to replace Burberry's departing designer Christopher Bailey.
($1 = 0.8427 euros)
(Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)