Richemont does away with CEO po­si­tion

CityPress - - Business -

Richemont, the owner of Cartier jew­ellery and IWC Schaffhausen time­pieces, un­veiled the most sweep­ing man­age­ment over­haul in years in re­sponse to plung­ing sales of lux­ury watches and leather goods.

CEO Richard Lepeu and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Gary Saage would re­tire next year, eight direc­tors would step down, and new man­agers would lead watch­mak­ing and op­er­a­tions, the Swiss firm said on Fri­day. The CEO role would be abol­ished, with brand chiefs re­port­ing di­rectly to the board, said chair Jo­hann Ru­pert.

In­vestors wel­comed the move, send­ing the stock up as much as 7.8% in Zurich de­spite a 43% plunge in first-half profit.

“One in­di­vid­ual can­not be held re­spon­si­ble, it’s un­fair,” Ru­pert said, re­fer­ring to the roughly three­dozen units that make up the sprawl­ing com­pany.

“We will never have a sim­i­lar CEO again. Now it’s time for us to start look­ing at an­other gen­er­a­tion.”

It’s the big­gest shake-up at Richemont since 2009, when Ru­pert re­turned for a third spell as CEO to steer the com­pany through the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis. The de­ci­sion to do away with a CEO could con­sol­i­date power in Ru­pert’s hands, and marks a more sig­nif­i­cant step than other reshuf­fles the lux­ury and fash­ion sec­tors have ex­pe­ri­enced this year.

Com­pa­nies that have changed their CEO this year in­clude Burberry Group, and Ker­ing’s Ba­len­ci­aga and Bot­tega Veneta.

– Bloomberg

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