For the past two years, one of the biggest guessing games for watch pundits has been who will take over at Richemont Group when current CEO Richard Lepeu retires. As the inevitable date grew nearer, this became a two-man race with no consensus among the industry on who was in the lead. At no point, however, was a dead heat considered, so it came as a huge surprise when news broke yesterday that the Richemont Board has decided to do away with the CEO role all together when Lepau steps down in March 2017, restructuring the senior management set-up and roles of responsibility.
Not only will Lepeu, Chief Financial Officer Gary Saage and seven other directors retire from the Board, but young blood will be injected in the form of the two men once feted for the soon-to-be defunct CEO position: Georges Kern and Jérôme Lambert. Kern will take up the position of Head of Watchmaking, Marketing and Digital and Lambert will become Head of Operations responsible for all maisons other than jewellery and watchmaking. Intuitive and ground-breaking, the appointments recognise and play to the strengths of these two titans of the luxury industry. Charismatic, fiercely intelligent, brave and daring, both Kern and Lambert have paid their dues in the watch world and, while their decisions might not have always been universally popular, neither man has ever been willing simply to settle for the path of least resistance.