Georges Kern, Richemont’s Head of Watchmaking, Marketing and Digital, and the man widely credited with building IWC Schaffhausen into a global success story, today announced his resignation from the Richemont Group, effective immediately, after only four months in the new management position. According to industry sources, Kern will be taking his talents to another aviation-themed Swiss luxury watch brand, Breitling, which was sold to a private equity firm, CVC Capital Partners, earlier this year. (The Swiss newspaper Le Temps reports that Kern has acquired a stake in Breitling, citing unnamed sources.)
Richemont released a short statement on the resignation to the press, which reads as follows:
“Richemont regrets to announce the resignation with immediate effect of Mr Georges Kern. Mr Kern was Head of Watchmaking, Marketing and Digital. He has stepped down from the Senior Executive Committee and the Group Management Committee and will no longer be standing for election to the Board of Directors of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA at the forthcoming annual general meeting of shareholders.
Commenting on Mr Kern’s decision, Mr Johann Rupert, Chairman, said, ‘Georges has been offered an interesting opportunity to become an entrepreneur. He has had a very successful career at IWC Schaffhausen and we wish him well.’
Richemont’s watchmaking, marketing and digital activities will report to the Senior Executive Committee.”
UPDATE, 7/18/17: According to our colleagues at FratelloWatches, an official press release (below) has been issued confirming the appointment of Kern as new Breitling CEO:
“Grenchen – 14 July, 2017 – Georges Kern was most recently Head of Watchmaking, Marketing and Digital at Richemont and in particular supervised the specialist watchmaking Maisons. Prior to that, he was CEO of IWC from 2002 to 2016, repositioning the brand to become one of the most successful and respected Swiss watch Maisons. Georges Kern started his career in the consumer goods industry at Kraft General Foods to move into the watch industry working for TAG Heuer from 1992-2000. As CEO and in this context shareholder of Breitling, Georges Kern‘s mission will be to foster the global development of one of the world’s most established watch manufacturers, and focus on further developing Breitling’s digital and retail footprint, especially with a view of accelerating growth in the important Asian markets. Théodore Schneider, who sold a majority stake to CVC Capital Partners and moved to chairmanship of Breitling, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Georges Kern to Breitling. His extensive experience and knowledge of the luxury watch industry and his creativity will further accelerate Breitling’s growth momentum.” Jean-Paul Girardin will remain with Breitling as vice president.”