The firm said in a statement that Perrin, a 30-year Richemont veteran dubbed "Mr. Cartier" for his work building the French jewelry brand, would retire on his 61st birthday in October. However, he will continue in an executive role as a member of Richemont’s strategic product and communications committee, its top management board, and also will be nominated to the group Richemont board. It could not be learned whether Perrin’s role at Richemont would remain a full-time one, however.
His resignation comes a month before Richemont releases figures for the fiscal year ended March 2003, when operating profit is expected to be as much as 40 percent below previous year’s levels due to restructuring costs at the Dunhill and Lancel divisions and a crisis in consumer confidence, especially in the vital Asian markets, which have been hit by SARS.
The Swiss-based company, which controls brands including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Montblanc and Dunhill, will announce its full-year results on June 5.
Perrin’s successor has not been named. It is understood, however, that Johann Rupert, executive chairman of the group, will take over Perrin’s responsibilities later this year. It is also understood that the ceo position will eventually be phased out as part of the group’s long-term plan to decentralize power and give more say to the individual brand directors at Richemont.
In a telephone interview, Rupert told WWD that Perrin’s decision was purely personal.
"At Christmas, Alain and I had a discussion about his future commitment to the company. I wanted him to commit for the next five years, but he told me he wanted to dedicate more time to his family, his wine-making and his outside interests. And I can understand that. Alain is going to be 61 years old, and he spends his days traveling around the world. He’s never home.
"But there is no animosity whatsoever," Rupert added. "Alain and I have been friends for 28 years, and I would never have asked him to stay with the company if there were any bad feelings. To be frank, I don’t see his role changing substantially at Richemont. He will continue to be my friend, my adviser, my colleague, and my counselor, and he will continue to be a strategic thinker and marketer for the company. I plan to draw heavily on his expertise in the years to come."