PARIS — Reshuffling its upper ranks of management, Swatch Group has named new chief executive officers at its Longines, Rado, Union, Tissot, Certina and Hamilton labels, drawing on its pool of loyal, longtime employees to fill the positions.
The changes at the world’s biggest watch group, which owns labels ranging from Blancpain to Swatch, comes as the Swiss watch industry struggles to adjust to a drop off in business due to the coronavirus pandemic. The sector was already greatly challenged by competition from the Apple Watch and disruption in one of its most important markets, Hong Kong, before COVID-19 hit.
Longines will be headed by Matthias Breschan, the current Rado ceo, replacing Walter von Känel who will retire after 51 years in the group, but will serve as honorary chairman of the brand and chairman of the Longines Foundation.
Hamilton ceo Sylvain Dolla will take the helm of Tissot, while outgoing ceo François Thiébaud will become chairman of the board of directors of Tissot.
Omega president and ceo Raynald Aeschlimann will join the executive group management board, while Breschan and Dolla will be named to the extended group management board.
Vivian Stauffer, head of sales at Hamilton, will now become the brand’s ceo. Rado will be managed by Adrian Bosshard, who was ceo of Certina and Union.
Marc Aellen, who headed sales at Jaquet Droz, will become ceo of Certina, and Franz Linder, ceo of Mido, will also become ceo of Union.
The appointments are effective July 1.
“All appointments are internal, pointing to continuity rather than a break with the past,” said Bernstein analyst Luca Solca. The analyst noted “especially positive feedback” on Breschan, the new head of Longines, noting that it is the second most important brand in the group after Omega.
Swatch Group in April said it would slash its planned dividend by 30 percent and cut board members’ pay to reflect the “drastic” impact of the coronavirus on the economy.
Swiss watch exports have dropped 35 percent over the last five months. In a sign that business remains challenging in China, May watch exports showed a sharp decline in exports to the country, down 54.6 percent.
Swatch Group ceo Nick Hayek has stressed the unsettled environment, saying in March: “The whole situation of 2020 is a little bit rocking us and shaking us and we are saying ‘what are we going to do here or there?'”