LONDON – Capping more than two years of radical transformation, Swarovski has named Alexis Nasard CEO of the company, WWD has learned.
He is the first CEO to come from outside the Swarovski family in the brand’s 127-year history.
An announcement is expected today.
The change in leadership is effective July 4 and is the latest step in the transition of Swarovski from a “family-managed to a family-owned company,” the brand said.
It added that Nasard’s most important task will be to “anchor the Swarovski brand firmly in its iconic luxury heritage, and lead the transformation of the Swarovski business along the full value chain for scale and profitable growth.”
Nasard’s background spans international fashion and fast-moving consumer goods.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he spent 17 years at Procter & Gamble; 6 years at Heineken; 5 years at Bata, and has also served as a senior advisor at McKinsey. He’s multi-lingual, has global experience across four continents, and has worked in online and physical retail.
Nasard said he’s looking forward to the challenge of leading the Swarovski “brand elevation and business transformation that is starting to be visible in the market.”
He said that Swarovski fascinates him “as a cultural icon, and as a fully integrated business model, with its unique positioning in the world of jewelry, design, fashion, stage and screen.”
He said he was looking forward to working with colleagues including Giovanna Engelbert, the brand’s creative director, “to implement the joint transformation plan, and to bring joy and delight to Swarovski customers worldwide.”
Luisa Delgado, chair of the board of directors, said that with Nasard’s appointment, the brand is taking “an important further step in establishing a sustainable governance model.”
Michele Molon, who served as the company’s interim leader for the past nine months, has been appointed to the newly established position of chief commercial officer.
Last October, Swarovski announced it was on the hunt for a new chief executive officer and chief financial officer, and that the roles could be filled by executives from outside the founding family for the first time.
Robert Buchbauer, who had earlier taken up the CEO role following a company-wide shakeup, and Mathias Margreiter, the CFO, both resigned to make way for the new leadership.
Both Buchbauer and Margreiter are members of the founding family, and remain on the board of directors.
The company, which is based in Wattens, Austria, has been working toward separating “control and management roles” at the company, which has historically been run by the descendants of founder Daniel Swarovski.
The family interests, meanwhile, have been bundled in the newly established family holding company.
In November last year, as part of the sweeping changes, Swarovski opened its board to non-family members.
They include Robert Singer, the former president and chief executive officer of Abercrombie & Fitch, and former chief financial officer of Gucci Group; Manuel Martinez, chairman of the board of Bally; Annalisa Loustau Elia, a former P&G, L’Oréal, and Cartier executive, and Luisa Delgado, whose title is lead operating director of the German toy company Schleich.
Nasard has a big job ahead at Swarovski, one of the best-known international brands, and one of the largest family-owned businesses in the German-speaking world.
He will still have to work closely with members of the large family as he gives the company a 21st-century edge, ramps up the digital business and manages the commercial and industrial arms of the company.
He will also need to hone Swarovski’s product offer and positioning in a market that’s flooded with accessibly-priced fashion jewelry, and man-made gemstones.
Over the past two years the company has been working to consolidate and tighten operations.
Buchbauer took over as CEO in April 2020 in a major reshuffle that saw his relative Nadja Swarovski leave the day-to-day operations of the company. Since then, she stepped down as executive board member and fully exited the company.
Nadja Swarovski, who founded the Swarovski Foundation, has also quit day-to-day operations of that organization, and now holds the title of chair emeritus.
Shortly after taking over as CEO, Buchbauer culled some 600 positions as part of his restructuring plan, with the COVID-19 crisis adding urgency to his efforts at the legacy crystal-maker.
As reported, he merged marketing and sales activities, streamlined distribution channels and shut the London-based Atelier jewelry line.
As part of his efforts to nudge the brand into a more premium jewelry segment, he named Engelbert creative director, and she has since overseen the creation of a new line of colorful jewelry for the brand’s new Instant Wonder stores.
Swarovski’s owning families have said they are seeking “fresh impetus” for company growth by bringing in new expertise.
The Swarovski family has said it wants the company to be run in a more unified manner, and according to best practice. It is also aiming to “professionalize” Swarovski’s various boards with diverse talent and expertise.
The company has repeatedly said that the “owner families” stand by their responsibility to Swarovski, the brand’s historic Wattens location and the employees “and they are confident that they have initiated the return to a profitable and growing company with their chosen path.”
The company was founded in 1895 in Austria, and the group is comprised of Swarovski Optik, which makes optical devices; Tyrolit, which produces abrasives materials, and the Swarovski Crystal Business.