One of the top 3 watch groups, Richemont has announced some serious changes last week. The luxury group has suffered a massive decline in sales from last year and things are about to be shaken up. For the record, RIchemont has the best mainstream brands under one roof including; A Lange & Sohne, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Dunhill, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Panerai, Roger Debuis Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels. I apologize if I left any brands out but you get the idea.
Mr Richard Lepeu, Chief Executive Officer, has made his intention to retire with effect from 31 March 2017, when he will have reached retirement age. Mr Gary Saage, Chief Financial Officer, will re-join his family in the United States and retire from his current role effective 31 July 2017.
The Board has therefore decided to restructure the responsibilities of senior management in the Group, recognising the need to be able to react quickly to the challenges facing businesses in general and the luxury industry at this time.
Mr Johann Rupert will remain as Executive Chairman of the Group. The following senior executives will be nominated to the Board of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA for shareholder approval at the annual general meeting to be held in September 2017:
Mr Nicolas Bos, who will join the Board in his capacity as CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels;
Mr Burkhart Grund, currently Deputy Chief Financial Officer, who will become Chief Financial Officer;
Mr Georges Kern, currently CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, who will be Head of Watchmaking, Marketing and Digital;
Mr Jérôme Lambert, currently CEO of Montblanc, who will be Head of Operations responsible for central and regional services and all Maisons other than jewellery and watchmaking.
Further nominees to the Board of Directors of the Company may be intimated ahead of the annual general meeting to be held in 2017.
Commenting on the proposals, Mr Johann Rupert, Chairman, said: “We are presenting today a series of changes to the way in which the Group operates which will take effect over the coming year. This reflects the retirement of some of our senior colleagues, as anticipated, which we have used as an opportunity to re-think the way in which the senior management group is structured. The changes we have proposed today will strengthen the Group’s ability to respond to the dynamic markets in which we operate, especially in the developing field of digital marketing and e-commerce.”
I would like to thank both Richard Lepeu and Gary Saage for their invaluable contribution to Richemont over the past 30 or so years in the case of Richard and some 28 years for Gary. Both have been loyal and hard-working colleagues. Richard has earned his retirement and I thank him sincerely for his valuable contribution across our luxury goods businesses, including at Vendome and Cartier as well as here at Richemont. Gary’s family live in the USA and he has commuted across the Atlantic to visit them for almost 10 years. He has wanted to retire for some time and I have repeatedly persuaded him to stay. Now it is time for him to move back, having established a highly professional team in Geneva and a strong finance function across all our platforms. That the Group’s cash flow, even in these difficult times, has been so strong is a tribute to Gary’s management of the balance sheet. His contribution to the Group and his unwavering loyalty and support should never be underestimated.”
“Our senior board members are also retiring but their expertise will not be lost to the Group. Richemont has benefited from their wisdom and input over the years and I look forward to continuing to work with them all in an advisory capacity either as members of the International Advisory Council or as senior advisors to management. In these challenging times, their contribution will continue to be highly valued.”
As much is change is sometimes difficult to accept it is vital and necessary part of evolution. I am sure things will be fine at Richemont!