PARIS — EssilorLuxottica has named Paul du Saillant chief executive officer of Essilor, replacing Laurent Vacherot who has abruptly retired.
Du Saillant will also join the company’s board, the eyewear giant behind Sunglasses Hut and LensCrafter said Monday.
Du Saillant will work with Francesco Milleri, deputy chairman and ceo of Luxottica Group, to develop and oversee the group’s strategy and integration process.
Essilor’s board is being shaved down to five members from 15 before, in order to simplify decisions and reduce overlap with the group’s board, Essilor said in a separate statement.
Du Saillant has been deputy ceo of Essilor since 2019 and was chief operating officer before that, since 2010.
EssilorLuxottica also announced it is postponing its annual general meeting to June 25 from a previously scheduled date of May 15, which it will hold “behind closed doors,” due to the coronavirus.
A previously decided dividend distribution, which was announced on March 6, will be re-evaluated at a later date, the company added, noting the board will decide whether to “confirm, reduce or cancel” the dividends depending on the situation.
The French government has urged companies to hold back from distributing dividends this year and instead use the funds to maintain employment.
Formed in 2018 by the combination of France-based Essilor and Italy’s Luxottica, the 46-billion-euro merger has been fraught with challenges, including disputes between top managers of the French and Italian factions of the company in early stages of integration.
The company last week withdrew full-year guidance it had issued earlier in March, and warned that disruption from COVID-19 will likely intensify and affect profitability over the second quarter.
In early March, the company had said its projected synergies and financial targets, which included 3 to 5 percent sales growth, were based on the assumption that the COVID-19 outbreak would ease up over the next few months.
The change in tone followed the closure of stores across Europe and the North America, on instructions from local officials, and suspended activities at production sites in France and Italy.
Production continues globally thanks to its vast network of plants and laboratories around the world, and production facilities in China are fully operational with spare capacity while e-commerce is operating globally and is on the rise, with no back orders, EssilorLuxottica has said.