Mar 18, 2016
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Richemont co-CEO Fornas to retire at end of month

Mar 18, 2016

Richemont's co-chief executive Bernard Fornas is to retire at the end of March, leaving Richard Lepeu as sole CEO, the Swiss luxury goods conglomerate said on Friday.

Analysts said Lepeu, who has been working alongside Fornas since April 2013, was viewed as a good replacement for the 69-year-old.

Bernard Fornas - Richemont

"Lepeu is very experienced within the group and so the company is in very capable hands in what is a difficult time for the watch industry and luxury goods in general," said Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Jon Cox.

Swiss watchmakers are braced for another difficult year as economic woes in major markets curb consumers' appetite for pricey timepieces, industry executives said this week.

Sales in Hong Kong, the biggest market for Swiss watches, have been hit by China's economic slowdown and Beijing's anti-corruption campaign and clampdown on extravagant spending, which shows no signs of rebounding.

Fornas will remain on the company's board of directors as a non-executive director, said Richemont, whose brands include Cartier and Piaget.

Richemont also said Cartier's CEO Cyrille Vigneron would become a member of its senior executive committee from April 1.

Meanwhile in response to a Swiss newspaper report that Richemont is planning to cut 300 jobs in Switzerland, the Geneva-based company said it had signed a social plan with unions in February to cut up to 350 jobs over a 12-month period.

Cartier, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin in Switzerland are the three brands affected.

Richemont's shares were up 1 percent at 64.55 Swiss francs at 0930 GMT.

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