Richemont to Add Former Hermès CEO Patrick Thomas to Board of Directors as Part of Greater ‘Soft Luxury’ Push



In the wake of the revelation of a “good start to the year” at the end of July and a 129% increase in overall sales to $ 5.19 billion for a first quarter, Richemont on Thursday announced changes within its board of directors. The 33-year-old Swiss conglomerate – which owns Cartier, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels, and IWC, among an array of other brands – has revealed that former Hermès CEO Patrick Thomas will join its board of directors. administration as a non-executive. director, as has British businesswoman Jasmine Whitbread, who Richemont says has “a long-standing interest in ESG issues.”

In a statement Thursday, Richemont chairman Johann Rupert said he was “delighted to welcome Jasmine and Patrick to the board,” saying they both “bring unparalleled experience and expertise to roles. areas of great importance to the Group “. In addition to “Jasmine’s emphasis on [Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance], “Rupert asserted that” Patrick’s successful career in soft luxury will be invaluable as we embark on the next stage of our development “, possibly referring to the group’s growing efforts to better compete in the soft luxury space, which is currently dominated by rival conglomerates LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Kering, as well as companies like Chanel and Hermès.

Currently deriving most of its revenue from luxury offerings – 57% of its 2021 revenue was from its jewelry business and 17% from watches, Richemont has been far less active than its closest rivals when it comes to lucrative fashion. . and leather goods, having only Chloé, Azzedine Alaia and Dunhill, under its umbrella on the softer luxury front, and very recently adding the Belgian leather goods brand, Delvaux. Building this area has been one of the group’s priorities, which revealed in its 2019 annual report that it focuses on “improving sales and cash flow, building capacity in leather goods and increasing of digital reach “when it comes to its Fashion & Home accessories.

Image via Coresight

By comparing Richemont’s revenues to those of leader LVMH, Coresight reported in July that LVMH’s revenues from fashion and leather goods for fiscal 2020 amounted to 21.2 billion euros ($ 25.1 billion) and represented approximately 53.1% of its total revenues , up from 46% in 2019. Meanwhile, Richemont’s revenue from its leather goods and fashion segments was well below 3.2 billion euros ($ 3.8 billion). In contrast, LVMH’s Watches and Jewelry division – which is made up of Bulgari, Chaumet, Tiffany & Co., Tag Heuer, Zenith, Bulgari, Fred and Hublot and generated 3.36 billion euros (3.98 billion euros). dollars) in 2020 – pales in comparison to Richemont’s, which saw the group generate 9.71 billion euros ($ 11.49 billion) for the full year.

As LVMH steps up its more demanding luxury offerings, the conglomerate led by Bernard Arnault acquired Tiffany & Co. in October 2020 for $ 15.8 billion, the largest contract to date for the French group, and Kering has reportedly sought to strengthen its position in the jewelry and watches segment by merging with Richemont (Mr Rupert said in January that he had rejected the informal “cash and stock” offer and “did not submit” it to the Richemont board), the owner of Cartier is aiming to flesh out its offering.

Richemont made headlines in June when he acquired 100% of Belgian luxury leather goods maker Delvaux, a move widely characterized as signifying his growing interest in soft luxury. The Delvaux agreement alone should not allow Richemont to compete with mega-brands like Louis Vuitton or Gucci. Chances are, Richemont will relaunch the brand and ultimately evolve it into a bigger player in the industry, with more offerings to come. At the same time, Richemont is expected to double its e-commerce capabilities, including expanding the $ 1.1 billion business it announced in November 2020 with Alibaba and Farfetch.

As for Mr. Thomas, Richemont says he brings over 30 years of experience in the luxury industry. He was the first and only non-family manager of Hermès, where he served as CEO and led the considerable development of the group from 2003 to 2014, after eight years as COO from 1989 to 1997. He was also held management positions within the Lancaster Group and Pernod Ricard. , and is currently Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Champagne Laurent Perrier, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Ardian, Lead Director of Teleperformance, Non-Executive Director of MycoWorks and Non-Executive Director of Shang Xia, the specialist fashion brand that Exor NV acquired from Hermès at the end of last year.


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