The changes just keep coming at Tiffany & Co. — and this time the famed jeweler has tapped one of the most admired executives in fashion to help in its turnaround efforts. On Thursday, Tiffany named Roger Farah chairman, effective Oct. 2.
Farah assumes the role after six months of turmoil at the company, which has seen repeated declines in comparable store sales, as well as a change in designers and the ousting of its chief executive officer. Tiffany also has had to deal with activist investors, Jana Partners and former Bulgari chief executive officer Francesco Trapani, who together own 5.1 percent of the firm.
Indeed, Farah’s appointment was part of a deal worked out with Jana in February when Trapani joined the board. At the time, current chairman Michael Kowalski, 65, said he expected in time to “relinquish my responsibilities as chairman to a successor.” Farah joined the Tiffany board a month later.
Kowalski’s decision was said to be voluntary, however.
His exit after such a long tenure at the retailer is only the latest in a series of shakeups. In the last nine months, the company has ousted then-ceo Frederic Cumenal, who first appointed Francesca Amfitheatrof as creative director only to replace her three years later with former Coach creative director Reed Krakoff, who won’t show his first jewelry collection for the brand until next year. Cumenal’s successor is Alessandro Bogliolo, who joined from Diesel but before that spent 16 years at Bulgari — where he worked closely with Trapani.
Farah was previously co-ceo at Tory Burch and before that was the longtime president of Ralph Lauren Corp., credited by many with helping to grow the American brand into a global force and making it one of the best-run companies in fashion. He also had stints at Venator Group Inc., R.H. Macy & Co. Inc. and Federated Merchandising Services.
Kowalski — who served as ceo from 1999 until his retirement in 2015, and temporarily resumed the position earlier this year upon the ouster of Cumenal — has served as Tiffany’s chairman since 2002. He will remain on the board as a director, according to a statement from the jeweler.
Kowalski said of Farah’s appointment: “Roger has significant experience as a leader in the luxury retail industry, and I and my fellow directors value tremendously his expertise and insight which have been apparent during his time on the board. With the appointment of Alessandro [Bogliolo] as our new ceo, and under Roger’s leadership on the board, I believe we are well positioned to execute on strategies to drive comparable store sales growth and stronger earnings growth in the longer term.”
Farah could not be reached for comment. Tiffany’s shares barely budged on the news of his appointment in after-hours trading, falling by a slight 0.1 percent to $89.85 in after-hours trading. The stock has been hovering around the $90 mark for most of the year.