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Jean Paul Gaultier Said to Tap New President

Hermès Veronique Gautier set to succeed Christophe Caillaud.

PARIS — Jean Paul Gaultier is about to name his third new president in as many years — and she comes from Hermès International, which owns 45 percent of Gaultier, WWD has learned.

According to sources, Veronique Gautier, chairman of Hermès Parfums’ supervisory board and managing director of leather goods, will succeed Christophe Caillaud, who was promoted to the helm of the Paris fashion house in 2006 after six years as its managing director.

The circumstances behind the management change could not immediately be learned. Hermès and Gaultier officials could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

During his tenure, Caillaud had steered the brand’s retail expansion, opening a slew of boutiques in Asia and the Middle East, most as partnerships or franchises. The executive also saw the company, which had been reeling from heavy investments in a new headquarters, retail stores and its money-losing couture, return to profitability.

According to the most recent annual report of Hermès International, which in September upped its stake in Gaultier from 35 percent, sales at Gaultier last year edged up 1 percent to 30 million euros, or $41.1 million at average exchange rates for the period.

Direct sales come from couture and company-owned stores, while the lion’s share of revenues come from licensing royalties for ready-to-wear, accessories and perfumes, the latter boosted in 2007 by the launch of Fleur du Mâle.

At the time that it disclosed its increased investment in Gaultier, Hermès management described the business as profitable and growing. The designer has also helmed women’s ready-to-wear at Hermès since 2004.

Caillaud had succeeded Eric Labaume, who stepped down after 15 months. Labaume had succeeded Donald Potard, a childhood friend of the designer’s who was Gaultier’s president from 1990 to 2005.