PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton on Tuesday appointed Jean-Christophe Babin, Tag Heuer’s longtime chief executive officer, as the new ceo at Bulgari.
This story first appeared in the February 13, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
This confirms a report in WWD on Jan. 14 that Babin would take the management helm of the Roman jewelry house, which falls under the watches and jewelry division of LVMH headed by Francesco Trapani. Babin is expected to take up the post in the coming months.
Babin succeeds Michael Burke, who headed Bulgari from February to December 2012, when he was named to succeed Jordi Constans as chairman and ceo of Louis Vuitton.
Of French and Italian nationality, Babin is a graduate of the prestigious HEC Business School in Paris. He started his career in 1983 at Procter & Gamble in France in a variety of commercial and marketing roles, going on to work for Benckiser and Henkel in Italy.
He joined Tag in 2000 and orchestrated what LVMH described as a“remarkable development.”
His successor at the Swiss watchmaker, famous for sports watches and chronographs worn by celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio and Maria Sharapova, has yet to be named.
During his tenure at Tag, Babin oversaw the brand’s retail expansion, adding up to 30 stores per year. He also experienced chronic shortages for some of Tag’s top sellers, including the Carrera and the Ladies’ Aquaracer.
In one of the headline luxury deals of 2011, LVMH took control of Bulgari in a cash-and-share swap valued at more than $6 billion.
Babin’s appointment suggests Bulgari is keen to seize on its potential in watches, which Burke had characterized as “way below potential.”
This category — which in the past has been problematic at times for the jeweler — is the second-largest business for Bulgari, which recently reined in the expansion of its leather goods.
More than a decade ago, the firm solidified its watchmaking back office, buying top suppliers such as Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth, and the labels’ production facilities, Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie SA, which has allowed Bulgari to produce watches entirely in-house.
Organic revenues at LVMH’s watches and jewelry division gained 6 percent in 2012 to 2.84 billion euros, or $3.65 billion at current exchange.