Tiffany & Co. is the latest company to see a major executive shakeup, revealing late this afternoon that chief executive officer Frederic Cumenal has stepped down, effective immediately.
The statement from Tiffany said the board has begun a search for Cumenal’s successor. In the interim, former ceo and current chairman Michael Kowalski will serve as interim ceo.
Kowalski said, “At a time of continuing challenges in the global luxury market, Frederic has enhanced the management team and taken important steps to position Tiffany for success in the long term. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Kowalski also said the company’s board is “committed to our current core business strategies but has been disappointed by recent financial results. The board believes that accelerating execution of those strategies is necessary to compete more effectively in today’s global luxury market and improve performance.”
According to Kowalski, those strategies include enhancing the customer experience, increasing the rate of new product introductions and innovations, maximizing marketing effectiveness, optimizing the store network and improving business operations and processes.
Cumenal said he had “great confidence in Tiffany’s brand, strategic direction and people, and I believe the company will have many exciting opportunities in the future.”
Cumenal’s exit is the latest management change at the specialty retailer. Last month, Tiffany pushed out its creative director Francesca Amfitheatrof, and hired Reed Krakoff to turn things around. Krakoff had long served as president and chief creative director for Coach, but left the leather goods house in 2014 to pursue his own label. He closed his namesake brand in 2015.
Amfitheatrof, who joined the brand in 2013, became the design face of the brand, hosting events and giving magazine interviews as the company attempted to attract a younger customer. Toward the end of 2016, there was growing speculation that many of Amfitheatrof’s collections failed to perform strongly at retail.
Krakoff became creative collaborator in July, tasked with designing home furnishings and accessories. In his new role as chief artistic officer — he began Feb. 1 — he leads design of the jewelry and luxury accessory categories, as well as the “brand’s overarching artistic and design vision with respect to stores, e-commerce, marketing and advertising,” the company said at the time.
Some Wall Street analysts are playing the waiting game as they try to determine if the change in artistic direction could mean that Tiffany is looking to further hedge its bets on the affordable luxury market. The research team at Goldman Sachs issued a research note last month noting that the retailer several quarters ago announced an evolution of its approach to accessible luxury, with a new focus on fashion jewelry in the below-$500 price-point range. The report also queried whether Krakoff’s expertise and long history in accessible luxury meant a “greater push for Tiffany along these lines.”
Tiffany is scheduled to post fourth quarter and full year results on March 17.
In the past week, the fashion world has seen a series of changes at several companies, both at the ceo level and on the creative side.
On Thursday, the fashion world saw the exit of Riccardo Tisci from Givenchy. Speculation has intensified that he is a step closer to a move to Versace.
On the business side, Ralph Lauren Corp.’s ceo Stefan Larsson is stepping down in May. His soon-to-be-departure stemmed from clashes over the direction of the company with Ralph Lauren and the company’s board. And at Barneys New York, Mark Lee has stepped down as ceo, although he continues with the company in the role of executive chairman. Daniella Vitale, who had been chief operating officer, has been named ceo. Further, Dennis Freedman, Barneys creative director since 2010, is also said to be leaving the company, although the specialty retailer declined to comment on whether Freedman has departed.