Richemont takes time to find new leader for watch business


GENEVA (Reuters) – Richemont (CFR.S) replaced almost half of its board members on Wednesday as the world’s second biggest luxury group looks for an executive to revive its struggling watch business.
The downturn exposed massive overcapacity at Richemont’s watch factories, notably at Cartier, Vacheron Constantin and Piaget, leading to inventory buybacks, job cuts and the replacement of almost all its brand chiefs.
He gave no word on a new head of the watchmaking division after the surprise departure of Georges Kern, touted as a potential future CEO. Kern, a long serving Richemont executive, left in July after just four months in the role to join rival Breitling.
“Welcome to my world where you have sleepless nights now and then,” the South African added.
Asked whether a successor would be appointed soon, he said: “We’ll make announcements in November.
Kern departed shortly after Richemont introduced an unconventional management structure, replacing retiring CEO Richard Lepeu with a senior executive committee of younger managers.
Rupert said the eight new board members, including two women and his son Anton, would help the board steer the group “in times of great change” thanks notably to their know-how in technology and strategic areas like e-commerce.
The improved sales figures were less convincing when buybacks of unsold inventory from Chinese and Hong Kong retailers in the year-ago period were taken into account, analysts said.
Without this one-off effect, Richemont’s constant currency sales increase was reduced to 7 percent.
Richemont did not give any guidance on first-half profit that will be released on Nov.
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