Following speculation about its future management structure, Esprit Holding Ltd. said Tuesday Ronald Van der Vis, chief executive officer of optical retailer Pearle Europe, will replace Heinz Krogner as ceo.

This story first appeared in the April 8, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Before moving into the corner office, Van der Vis, 41, will take on the role of executive director on June 22 and then succeed current group ceo Heinz Krogner by November. Krogner, 67, will stay on as executive chairman until at least December 2010.

In his first year, Van der Vis will receive an annual salary of 1.5 million euros, or $2 million at current exchange, and a guaranteed bonus of 1 million euros, or $1.3 million, Esprit said.

Krogner said Van der Vis, who has been ceo of Pearle Europe since 2004, was chosen for the top job at Esprit because of his retail experience.

“Since over 50 percent of Esprit’s sales are based on wholesales to independent stores, it is important that Esprit is headed by a ceo who understands the requirements of our retail partners,” Krogner said.

Last week, the Hong Kong-based brand appointed John Gunn as president of Esprit North and South America.

Hampered by the economic slowdown, the retailer said in February its profit contracted 13.4 percent in the first half of the year despite a 2.9 percent increase in sales to 19.06 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $2.45 billion at average exchange. Esprit also said it was scaling back expansion plans, opening around 180 stores this year, down from the planned 275 stores. It opened its first stand-alone West Coast store, a 4,500-square-foot unit in Santa Monica, Calif., last month after more than a decade-long absence from the region of its birth.

At the end of 2008, Esprit operated 774 stores and its products were carried at 15,150 points of sale through its wholesale business.