Swatch Shakes Up Executive Committee as Luxury Slowdown Persists


Swatch Group AG is shaking up its executive management committee just months after the watch and jewellery maker faced investor calls for improved corporate governance.

Chief controlling officer Peter Steiger, a 35-year veteran of the Biel, Switzerland-based company, will retire and leave the group, according to a statement Thursday.

Two executives — Damiano Casafina, chief executive officer of the company’s watch movement production company ETA, and Sylvain Dolla, CEO of the Tissot brand — have been elected to the executive group management board, Swatch said.

The changes come as Swatch shares hit a 52-week low on June, 7 amid a downturn in demand for pricey timepieces in mainland China and Hong Kong. The company’s profit has also been impacted by a strong Swiss franc. Swatch stock fell slightly in early trading Thursday but has fallen by about 18 percent in 2024 compared to a 28 percent gain for Swiss rival and Cartier-owner Richemont.

Swatch’s chief executive officer Nick Hayek clashed with some investors and analysts on a raucous call in January amid criticism the family controlled company doesn’t engage enough with its shareholders.

Hayek, however, said the maker of Omega and Longines watches and Harry Winston jewellery cannot provide individual investors with privileged information. Swatch is in the business of selling “watches, not shares,” Hayek said at the time.

Hayek and other family members own about 25 percent of the company’s equity but control about 43 percent of voting rights. The family and management would prefer to take the company private but don’t want to take on the debt required for a transaction and become dependent on banks or financial institutions, Hayek has said.

“Steiger was a strong personality and a key figure at Swatch Group, among other things as chief controller and as head of the US business, which has been extremely successful in recent years,” analysts at Zurich Cantonal Bank said in a note.

Swatch elected Marc Hayek, who heads the Breguet and Blancpain watch brands, to its board of directors in May signaling a potential successor to the current CEO.

By Andy Hoffman

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