LONDON — It’s official.
Breitling has confirmed that former Richemont executive Georges Kern will join the Swiss watchmaker as chief executive officer and become a shareholder in the company that was purchased by CVC Capital Partners earlier this year.
The Breitling statement confirms an earlier report in WWD on Monday.
Kern was most recently head of watchmaking, marketing and digital, a new position, at Compagnie Financière Richemont. Prior to that, he was ceo of IWC from 2002 to 2016, where he repositioned the brand. He began his career at Kraft General Foods, and moved into the watch industry in 1992 after joining Tag Heuer.
Kern studied political science and business administration in Strasbourg, France and St. Gallen, Switzerland, respectively.
Breitling said Kern’s mission will be to foster its global development and to focus on further building the brand’s digital and retail footprint, “especially with a view to accelerating growth in the important Asian markets.”
Théodore Schneider, who sold a majority stake to CVC and became chairman of Breitling, said Kern’s “extensive experience and knowledge of the luxury watch industry and his creativity will further accelerate Breitling’s growth momentum.” Schneider continues to hold a 20 percent stake in the company.
Jean-Paul Girardin, the former ceo, will remain with Breitling as vice president.
In April, CVC took an 80 percent stake in Breitling via its Fund VI. Breitling was one of Switzerland’s last remaining family-owned, independent watchmakers.
“Using our network and expertise, CVC will work to make this global, iconic brand even more renowned and help shape the future of one of Switzerland’s last independent watch manufacturers,” Daniel Pindur, senior managing director at CVC, said after purchasing the company in April.
“Specifically, we see significant growth potential for Breitling in both existing and new geographies by driving the digitization of the marketing and distribution channels in the company, helping to enrich the product and customer experience.”
Breitling was founded in 1884 and is based in Grenchen, Switzerland. The company employs 900 people and operates two domestic manufacturing facilities.