The Swiss luxury group is set to name two new board members after announcing last month that the chief executives of its Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels brands would leave the its governing body to focus on running their respective units.
Former Hermès chief executive Patrick Thomas and environmental, social and governance advisor Jasmine Whitbread will be proposed as new non-executive directors at Richemont’s annual meeting September 8. Thomas led Hermès from 2003 until 2014, and was the only non-family member to ever serve as its chief executive. Meanwhile Whitbread is the former CEO of Save the Children International.
The governance shake-up comes as surging jewellery sales boost Richemont’s bottom line. But the outlook for its other businesses, like online luxury emporium Yoox Net-a-Porter and fashion label Chloé remains uncertain. As the pace of mergers and acquisitions heats up in luxury, reports that Kering approached Richemont’s chairman Johann Rupert about a potential tie-up have fuelled questions among financial analysts and investors about whether a deal for the company is possible.
Rupert, aged 71, owns about 9 percent of the company but retains the majority of voting rights through a dual-class share structure.
In addition to Cartier CEO Cyrille Vigneron and Van Cleef boss Nicolas Bos, three other non-executive directors won’t seek reelection, Richemont said. Former Richemont chief financial officer Gary Saage, Italian businessman Ruggero Magnoni, and Jan Rupert, a group’s former manufacturing director and a cousin of Johann’s, are set to leave.
Rupert has said the changes aim to “meet the changing demands of our operating environment most efficiently and align with best practice.”
For years, the Swiss luxury group has lagged rivals in fashion and tech, and now finds its dominance in hard luxury under threat. What is chairman Johann Rupert’s end game?