Longtime Luxottica CEO Confirms Departure

PARIS, France — Luxottica Group SpA said Andrea Guerra stepped down as chief executive officer after a decade at the helm of the world’s largest eyewear maker.

Guerra, who joined in 2004 from Indesit Co., will be replaced by finance chief Enrico Cavatorta and a co-CEO to be appointed at a later date, the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley eyeglasses said today in a statement.

Guerra’s tenure had been subject to speculation within the company since July, trade union representatives told Il Sole 24 Ore last month. Guerra, 49, and the eyewear maker’s billionaire owner Leonardo Del Vecchio, 79, have been debating strategic direction and managerial structure for some time, Luxottica said Aug. 21, responding to reports of a spat between the pair.

“Nothing lasts forever,” Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. After Guerra, who had a track record of creating value at the eyewear maker, “it’s going to be very important for Luxottica to show the market they have the commercial ability and skills on board to drive the business forward.”

luxotticaGuerra, who was Luxottica’s first CEO from outside the Del Vecchio family, more than doubled the company’s revenue to 7.3 billion euros ($9.6 billion). He expanded the business globally and presided over a string of acquisitions, including those of the Oakley brand and Brazilian eyewear maker Grupo Tecnol Ltda.

He leaves Luxottica with a roster of owned and licensed brands that include Prada and Chanel, selling eyewear in more than 7,000 of its own stores and via wholesale partners in more than 130 countries. The company’s manufacturing plants in Italy, China, Brazil and the U.S. made more than 77 million frames last year, according to its website.

Shares Slip

Luxottica shares rose 0.3 percent to 40.75 euros at 5:20 p.m. in Milan, extending their gain this year to 4.4 percent. The stock has almost tripled since Guerra joined in July 2004.

Cavatorta, 53, joined Luxottica in 1999 and became a director of the company in 2003. He previously worked for Piaggio & C SpA, McKinsey & Co. Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co.

While acknowledging the leadership qualities of Del Vecchio and Cavatorta, Citigroup Inc. analyst Mauro Baragiola said an enlarged leadership team could be problematic.

“Eventually someone has to make the decisions,” Baragiola said.

Del Vecchio founded Luxottica in 1961 and still owns about 65 percent of the eyewear maker.

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