CARTIER U.S. PRESIDENT APPOINTED TO OVERSEE ALL RICHEMONT BRANDS

Byline: Marc Karimzadeh

NEW YORK — In a key executive change at Compagnie Financiere Richemont AG, Alain Viot, president and chief executive officer of Cartier Inc., is leaving his post in New York to become director of business development for Richemont SA, based in London.
Stanislas de Quercize, president of Cartier France, will replace him, effective June 15.
In this newly created position, Viot will oversee all Richemont Group brands, handle business opportunities and acquisitions and partake in global strategy and marketing, the company revealed Friday. He will report to Alain Perrin, chief executive officer of Richemont.
Cartier, a division of Richemont, which also includes such brands as Chloe, Piaget, Baume & Mercier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Montblanc, is one of the world’s largest jewelry companies, with an estimated 18 percent share of a global market worth about $3.1 billion a year.
Viot was appointed president and ceo of Cartier Inc., the firm’s North American division, in February 2000, when Simon Critchell was named chairman of the French fine jeweler, succeeding Ralph Destino, who retired the year before. For the five years prior, Viot was president and ceo of Cartier Spain, where he oversaw the Cartier operations and those of several other brands in Spain and Portugal.
“Unfortunately, Alain Viot will leave Cartier in New York,” said Guy Leymarie, president and ceo of Cartier worldwide, who was in New York last week for the company’s annual sales meeting. “Alain did a good job. He reacted quickly to optimize the situation here in New York.”
De Quercize is no newcomer to the U.S. market. He was president and ceo of Montblanc North America from 1994 to 1997. Next, he moved to London to become international director of marketing for Alfred Dunhill until 1999, when he took the presidency of Cartier France.
Cartier has 30 stores in the U.S., with plans to add another unit at the Millennium Mall in Orlando this fall. Leymarie said he is projecting double-digit growth for the brand in the next fiscal year, which starts April 1.
“We put the U.S., which is the first market for jewelry and watches, as the first priority for development for the next five years,” he said.
Under Viot’s tenure, Cartier successfully renovated and reopened its Fifth Avenue flagship and opened units at the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pa., and the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif. The company also opened a temporary store at 131 Prince Street in SoHo to promote its latest Delices de Cartier collection. The initial plan was to transform this into a regular store, but this strategy has been put on hold.
“We will decide in a couple of months what to do with the store,” said Leymarie. “We reorganized the organization by promoting some managers and adjusting some functions. We are looking at the best and more effective organization.”
As reported, this included the promotion of Martin Gatins to vice president of Cartier Inc.’s wholesale division, succeeding Eveline Jones. Gatins was assistant vice president of eyewear for North America.
Commenting on market reports of significant layoffs at Cartier in the U.S., Viot said that the firm has recently consolidated some positions, which resulted in eliminating 17 positions here. Cartier has 410 employees in the U.S.
“It was the optimization of the organization,” said Viot. “We consolidated some positions to optimize productivity.”
“After Sept. 11, we expected much more trouble, but business from December to February was much better than expected, thanks to strong customer loyalty,” said Leymarie.
That said, Richemont has not been unscathed by the global economic slowdown. In the company’s first half ending Sept. 30, the luxury goods conglomerate reported a 78 percent drop in net profits, including goodwill amortization, to $189.2 million. Sales increased by 10 percent — 2 percent on a like-for-like basis — to $1.6 billion.
Watches account for some 50 percent of the firm’s sales, followed by jewelry with 20 percent, and accessories, clothing, fragrances and apparel with the remaining 30 percent. Watch sales rose 14 percent, but fell 3 percent on a like-for-like basis. Jewelry sales grew by 4 percent, while sales of Montblanc’s core writing instrument business rose 18 percent. In the Americas, sales in the period fell by 6 percent.

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