Mar 26, 2010
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Richemont names Saage new CFO ahead of CEO handover

Mar 26, 2010

By Katie Reid

ZURICH, March 26 (Reuters) - Luxury goods group Richemont (CFR.VX) named Gary Saage as its new chief financial officer, as part of a management reshuffle that will see Executive Chairman Johann Rupert tightening his grip on the group.

Cartier watch from the Richemont group

The move comes ahead of Rupert's planned succession as CEO next month when he adds the job to his current role of executive chairman and takes over from Norbert Platt, who is stepping down for health reasons after running the 17 maisons, or brands, under the Richemont umbrella for five years.

Saage, an American citizen, who worked as chief operating officer at Richemont's Alfred Dunhill brand before becoming deputy group finance director in 2006, succeeds Richard Lepeu who became CFO in 2004.

Lepeu is stepping up to become deputy chief executive and will work closely with Rupert, whose family holds a controlling stake in Richemont, the group behind high-profile brands such as Cartier and Montblanc.

At 1257 GMT, shares in Richemont were trading 0.5 percent weaker, in line with the STOXX European personal and household goods index .SXQP.

"Rupert has hinted there could be changes coming up as some of the older guard near retirement, so the move is no surprise. Saage is close to Rupert and we see no change in the group's direction," Kepler Capital Markets analyst Jon Cox said in a note.

"We like the stock and see a period of estimates moving upwards as comments from the watch industry are digested and given its exposure to the fast-improving U.S. market," Cox said.

Consumers' appetite for watches and jewellery, which represent about 78 percent of Richemont's total revenues, is picking up again, driven by strong demand in Asia, while Swiss watch export data have also pointed to a rebound in the North American market.

(Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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