PARIS — EssilorLuxottica executive chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio voiced his concerns over the company’s current chief executive officer search during EssilorLuxottica’s general assembly held on Thursday.
“It’s going to be very difficult,” said the founder of Luxottica in front of the crowd of shareholders.
“We already have the specifications required internally. No one can do the job better than our employees,” he continued.
In March, the group announced it was on track to appoint a new ceo — from either inside or outside the company — by the end of 2020. The recruitment is supported by two international executive search firms, Russell Reynolds Associates and Eric Salmon & Partners.
“I have already said no to one of the candidates that was suggested,” said Del Vecchio, who holds 31 percent of voting rights in EssilorLuxottica. “There is no point in hiring a lawyer or a banker who doesn’t know anything about glasses or lenses.”
This announcement — Del Vecchio’s only participation in the general assembly, which was led by executive vice chairman Hubert Sagnières — comes four days after the eyewear giant announced the signature of an agreement to resolve ongoing governance issues plaguing the merger.
On Monday, the board unanimously approved the plan for Del Vecchio and Sagnières to hand integration responsibilities to Francesco Milleri, in charge of Luxottica group, and Laurent Vacherot, who heads Essilor International and becomes director of EssilorLuxottica.
Milleri and Vacherot are not candidates to the position of ceo, as reported.
During the company’s first annual shareholding meeting in November, Del Vecchio had already pushed for Milleri to be named ceo of the group made up of the combined Essilor International and Delfin Sarl subsidiaries.
“The governance issues mustn’t cast a shadow on EssilorLuxottica’s power,” Sagnières said during the general assembly on Thursday, during which the general mood remained upbeat, with executives from both the Essilor and Luxottica sides making jokes about currently learning each other’s languages.
“There have been difficult moments this last couple of months, but our 150,000 employees continued to work nonetheless,” continued Sagnières. “Our performance has been very good despite recent issues, because both sides have a shared vision: to help the world see better.”
On May 7, EssilorLuxottica reported a 7.5 percent rise in first-quarter sales, lifted by its optical retail business in North America.
EssilorLuxottica was formed through a 46-billion-euro merger of Italy’s Luxottica, the producer of eyewear under license for brands including Giorgio Armani Group, Bulgari, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Prada and Versace, and France’s Essilor, which makes lenses.
Sagnières has been engaged in a public dispute with Luxottica founder Del Vecchio since the merger was completed in October last year. In a rare move in corporate Europe, a Paris commercial court last month appointed Frank Gentin as a mediator to the divided 16-member board, which was split evenly between French and Italian factions of the company.