Tiffany CEO Kowalski to retire, president Cumenal to take over


Upscale jeweler Tiffany & Co <TIF.N> said Michael Kowalski, its chief executive of 15 years, would retire next year and President Frederic Cumenal would succeed him.

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Kowalski, 62, joined the company in 1983 and became CEO in 1999. He took the additional role of board chairman in 2003.

Cumenal, 54, will take over as CEO from April 1 next year, just over four years after joining Tiffany. He was appointed president and given a newly created seat on the company's board in September 2013.

Cumenal joined Tiffany in 2011 after a 15-year stint at Louis Vuitton brand owner LVMH Group, where he was most recently the president and CEO of French champagne maker Moet & Chandon SA.

Shares of Tiffany, known for its blue boxes and its Fifth Avenue flagship store in Manhattan, were slightly down at $98.79 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock was trading around $15 when Kowalski took over as CEO.

Kowalski oversaw Tiffany's expansion in Asian markets, particularly Japan and China. The new markets helped the company offset the impact of sluggish sales in its home U.S. market in the past two years.

Tiffany had been struggling to find the right balance between the pricey jewelry for which it is known and cheaper silver items that generate a quarter of sales.

Last year, the company also refreshed its design team by appointing Francesca Amfitheatrof, who has helped design jewelry for top brands such as Chanel, Fendi and Marni, as its design director.