LONDON — Franco Cologni, who was instrumental in building Richemont’s watch business, will retire from his full-time executive role later this year when he turns 70, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

This story first appeared in the July 8, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In November, Cologni will step down from the board of Richemont SA, the group’s management board, but will remain on the board of Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA, the parent company, as senior executive director.

He will continue to serve as chairman of the watch brands Vacheron Constantin and Officine Panerai. Johann Rupert, Richemont’s executive chairman and shareholder of reference, has also asked Cologni to join the company’s strategic committee.

“Franco has been one of the most important and influential executives in the group over the last 35 years,” Rupert said in the statement. “He has guided not only Cartier, but also our watch brands to the success that they enjoy today. Franco will continue to be closely involved in many aspects of the business.”

During his career with the Switzerland-based luxury group, Cologni helped to acquire Panerai and promoted the Richemont Creative Academy in Milan. His role was mostly a behind-the-scenes one, working on acquisitions and developing creative aspects of the business.

He will continue to be involved with the creative side of the group, and with publications like Cartier Art and special events such as the upcoming Montres et Merveilles show in Beijing.

A Richemont spokeswoman added Cologni would not be replaced at the group, and his departure would not trigger any fundamental change within its management structure.