Exclusivy: Ex-Hugo Boss CEO becomes Bottega Veneta head

Thu Sep 29, 2016 2:32pm EDT
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By Astrid Wendlandt

PARIS (Reuters) - French luxury and sports group Kering (PRTP.PA: Quote) has appointed former Hugo Boss Chief Executive Claus-Dietrich Lahrs as the new head of its Italian leather goods maker Bottega Veneta, it said on Thursday, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

Lahrs, who left Hugo Boss (BOSSn.DE: Quote) in February after eight years at the German fashion brand, joins Bottega Veneta after a year when the Italian brand's sales have dropped continuously, partly due to markdowns and weaker demand from Chinese buyers, its biggest customer base.

Lahrs is one of the luxury goods industry's best-known veterans.

Bottega Veneta is now Kering's top problem after the group succeeded in turning around Gucci much faster than many expected under the leadership of Marco Bizzarri, who was Bottega Veneta's boss for five years until 2014.

In the quarter to June, Bottega Veneta's sales in its own shops were down 11 percent. The brand is Kering's second biggest in terms of revenue behind Gucci. In 2015, it generated nearly 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in sales.

"Now that Gucci is doing better, pressure in the group has come down but Bottega Veneta remains a problem," the source said.

Lahrs, 53, earned a strong reputation for developing Hugo Boss's digital drive and retail network and spearheaded its global expansion in countries such as China.

He also drafted in designer Jason Wu to develop Hugo Boss's womenswear.   Continued...

Chief Executive of the German fashion house Hugo Boss Claus-Dietrich Lahrs speaks during the International Herald Tribune luxury goods conference "Techno Luxury" in Berlin, Germany, November 17, 2009.    REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo