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Friday, January 6, 2012

Jean Claude Biver Resigns as Hublot CEO

Jean Claude Biver and Ricardo Guadalupe

Jean Claude Biver, one of the most influential persons in the Swiss watch industry, is stepping down as CEO of Hublot

He is being replaced as CEO by Ricardo Guadalupe, former Hublot managing director and personal friend of Biver with whom he has been working with for nearly 20 years. The change became effective January 1.

The company in a statement said the move was planned “a long time ago in consideration of Mr. Guadalupe’s significant and instrumental achievements together with Mr. Jean Claude Biver since joining Hublot in 2005.”

Biver, who is credited with turning Hublot into one of the world’s most successful Swiss luxury watch brands will continue to serve as Hublot’s board chairman, and will continue to provide input into the company’s business strategy and product development. As the official spokesperson of Hublot, Biver will also coordinate communications activities.

In a brief statement, Biver said: “There is a time for learning, a time for doing, a time for handing over, and a time for moving on. I’ve happily made it safe and sound to the hand-over stage. With the gratification of being able to hand over to a friend and colleague of more than twenty years. And happiness at the prospect of remaining part of the team on matters relating to strategy, products and corporate relations.”

Biver along with the late Nicolas Hayek, co-founder, CEO and board chairman of Swatch, are credited with saving the Swiss watch industry from the quartz movement. Biver joined Hublot as CEO and board member in 2004.  Following a fivefold increase in sales from 2004 to 2007, the brand was purchased by LMVH in 2008 . Even in the late-2000s recession, Hublot was considered to be successful, with sales down 15 percent up to November 2009 compared with 30 percent for the entire Swiss luxury watch business. Biver on Friday told Reuters that sales at Hublot  grew around 30 percent in 2011--above the industry average--with Swiss watch exports up around 22-24 percent, but the year ahead will be more challenging.

Biver retained the brand's exclusivity through methods such as restricting supply in the face of large demand, citing that "people want exclusivity, so you must always keep the customer hungry and frustrated," he said in a 2009 interview with the Economist.

Prior to Hublot, Biver had very successful stints leading watch brands Blancpain and Omega.

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