LONDON — Retail veteran and luxury investor Marty Wikstrom has a new role at Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, owner of brands including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Dunhill.
This story first appeared in the March 31, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Later this year, Wikstrom will begin working with Richemont’s “soft goods” brands — including Dunhill, Chloé and Lancel — to coordinate and develop their businesses, according to a Richemont spokesman.
“We anticipate that she will work closely with the chief executives of the leather accessories and fashion brands,” said the spokesman on Monday. “Marty is a non-executive director of the group, and she’s already very close to what’s going on.”
The spokesman said Richemont’s executive chairman Johann Rupert “is very happy that Marty will be assisting the company,” and added Wikstrom would start work in “late spring or early summer.” A full announcement will be made in due course, he said.
Wikstrom confirmed on Monday that she would be joining Richemont to work on the leather, accessories and fashion brands, but declined further comment.
Richemont and Wikstrom already have strong business ties: The luxury group is the principal investor in The Atelier Fund, the investment company that Wikstrom started with Dawn Mello.
Atelier’s investments include the footwear firm Harry’s of London, ready-to-wear label Adam Lippes and accessories company Mary Norton.
Wikstrom is the former managing director of Harrods, and former president of Nordstrom’s full-line stores. She is based in London, while Mello works out of New York.
The soft goods companies at Richemont have not been among the luxury group’s top performers compared with the jewelry and watch houses, which account for the lion’s share of Richemont’s sales. However, Rupert is known to be committed to making Dunhill, Chloé and Lancel successful. With a debt-free balance sheet and more than 900 million euros, or $1.19 billion, in net cash, he has the firepower to transform those houses into formidable businesses.
“Rupert is seeking to extract long-term value from the leather and accessories companies — he’s thinking of the future,” said one industry source, who did not rule out the possibility of future acquisitions in leather and accessories.