GENEVA • Cartier maker Richemont yesterday named group veteran Jerome Lambert as chief executive officer to help the world's second-biggest luxury goods group adjust to changing consumer habits and put its watch brands back on track.
Richemont, also known for IWC and Piaget watches, scrapped the CEO role 11/2 years ago, upon the retirement of Mr Richard Lepeu, and appointed a senior executive committee to manage the group.
At the time, Mr Lambert, currently chief operating officer, and Mr Georges Kern were both seen as candidates to one day take over as CEO, but Mr Kern has since left to pilot rival brand Breitling.
"Jerome's new role sees him taking responsibility for the group's future growth at a time when consumer habits are changing significantly," Richemont's controlling shareholder and chairman Johann Rupert was quoted as saying in a statement.
He added that Mr Lambert would work as "first amongst equals" with the heads of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and the group's finance head on the senior executive committee "to ensure a coherent approach to achieving our common goals while respecting the individuality of our Maisons".
Richemont yesterday reported a 10 per cent rise in constant currency sales growth in the five months to Aug 31, driven by strong sales at its jewellery brands, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, particularly in the Asia-Pacific and the Americas.
Including recently acquired online retailers Yoox Net-a-Porter and Watchfinder.co.uk, constant currency sales even jumped by a quarter to €5.67 billion (S$9 billion) in the five-month period, Richemont said.
"All regions, with the exception of the Middle East, posted growth, led by solid momentum in Asia-Pacific and the Americas. Hong Kong, Korea and Macau all generated double-digit increases while China showed good growth," the Geneva-based group said.
Sales at the group's watch brands rose only 4 per cent as Richemont continued to adjust inventories by buying back unsold stock from retail partners.