Bringing almost all hard-luxury activities under one leader, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has named Stéphane Bianchi president of its watches and jewelry division, and a member of the LVMH executive committee.
The executive, who has moved swiftly up the ranks since joining the group in 2018, saw his purview expanded last year from its watchmaking division to the jewelry houses Fred and Chaumet.
He now adds Bulgari to his remit. Jean-Christophe Babin continues in his role as chief executive officer of Bulgari, and now reports to Bianchi. Previously, Babin reported to Toni Belloni, group managing director of LVMH.
Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, lauded Bianchi’s “great passion for these categories, and true dedication to product quality and innovative ideas.”
“He has also proven the ability to attract and coach strong talents, a key to the future of our group. I am confident he will do a great job leading our watches and jewelry maisons to the next level,” he added in an internal announcement seen by WWD.
Bianchi was CEO of the Yves Rocher Group, which includes the Petit Bateau brand, from 1998 to 2015.
At LVMH, he initially focused on the watch maisons Tag Heuer, Hublot and Zenith, “building the business fundamentals and organization for these brands, and developing his expertise in hard luxury,” LVMH said in the announcement, also lauding his oversight of Fred and Chaumet, ensuring a “strong rebound from the difficulties of the pandemic.”
The addition of Bulgari “rounds up his responsibilities” and rationalizes the group’s organization.
Tiffany & Co., only recently integrated into the group, will continue to be managed outside the watches and jewelry division.
“Each maison will continue to be managed individually to perpetuate its differentiation,” LVMH noted. Among prominent brand executives is Frédéric Arnault, CEO of Tag Heuer.
“We will frame their focus with a total ‘hard luxury’ strategy, and enhance sharing of knowledge and resources for faster progress,” LVMH added.
Belloni said Bulgari has “made great progress over the years” and credited Babin, its CEO since 2013, for “excellent” results. “He has refocused the maison on its core ‘métiers’ and unique Italian heritage with high energy and vibrant ideas. Together with Stéphane, they will make a great team, and continue to elevate the attractiveness of the maison.”
The integration of Tiffany has more than doubled the size of LVMH’s watches and jewelry business, which posted revenues of 6.16 billion euros in the first nine months of 2021, versus 2.26 billion euros during the same period in 2020.
Excluding Tiffany, third-quarter sales in watches and jewelry rose 1 percent in comparable terms versus 2019, after a 9 percent increase in the second quarter, with the group blaming volatility in Asia, which impacted jewelry in particular.