Richemont does away with CEO position
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.