As Growth Slows, Luxury Group Richemont Names New CEOs

On Friday, November 9th, as a way to help founder and controlling shareholder Johann Rupert see the luxury goods super group through a time of slowed growth in Asian, Richemont named two heavily experienced managers in the company as joint chief executives.

Bernard Fornas, the 65-year old executive from Cartier and Richard Lepeu, 60, will both take over the role that will be left vacant by Rupert in April of 2013.  Rupert will however continue in his duties as executive chairman.

“This company is far too complex and too big for one individual to run,” said Rupert.  Rupert assumed the role of CEO when Norbert Platt had to leave the position due to health problems.

The announcement about the shuffle came after first-half period sales reports claimed that growth had slowed down to 7 percent.  On its trading outlook, the group mentioned that present sales show that Asian tourists in Europe making purchases are making up for slower-than-expected sales in the Asia-Pacific region.  However, chief financial officer Gary Saage told reporters: “We still saw growth in all regions in October.”

Richemont claims that after two exceptional years of sales in Asia, that growth was “normalizing”.  The region’s growth dropped to 9 percent in the first half; growth for the same period last year was 60 percent.

However, sales in the Europe region rose in the first-half period by 19 percent, with group sales rising to €5.1 billion (approx $6.5 billion).

Above, the Richemont headquarters in Bellevue, Switzerland. Source courtesy Reuters

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