Hublot watches just announced that its charismatic and successful CEO Jean-Claude Biver has stepped down as the brand's CEO. I state this with sadness as Jean-Claude has not only been a friend but a very good example of what a Swiss watch CEO should be like. He is a master of marketing and collaborations. He not only knows how to save a brand but also how to make it something that the non watch news wants to cover. As a member of the press if there are two things I can say about him that all CEO's should aspire t0, then it would be his accessibility and involvement. Mr. Biver almost instantly responds to all e-mails and requests, and has a special talent for making each person he speaks to feel unique and important.
Jean-Claude isn't exactly leaving Hublot. He will remain there as the Chairman of the Board. This loosely defined position will give him less responsibilites but keep him aboard as a figurehead and adviser to the brand he helped revive. It has long since been rumored that Jean-Claude would leave Hublot to buy another brand and start over, but this is not the case. While not an old man, Jean-Claude is likely stepping down for health reasons and due to the draining nature of all the travel that is required of a Swiss watch CEO. As the Chairman of the Board he will be able to more selectively participate in brand activities and spend more time at home with his family. If you recall this is the same thing that Steve Jobs did at Apple, but I am not insinuating that Biver has those types of health problems.
Replacing Jean-Claude Biver as CEO will be Hublot's current Managing Director and # 2 man Ricardo Guadalupe. While Guadalupe has been friends and a colleague of Biver for about 20 years, he has been part of Hublot since 2005. He is no stranger to Biver's tactics or personality. Guadalupe however is a very different man than Jean-Claude. It is unclear how things will change once Guadalupe is placed in the top position at the brand, but with Mr. Biver around for advice and as a spokesperson I don't anticipate much change for the next several years.
My hope is that Jean-Claude Biver continues to devote much of his time to the brand he worked so hard to build-up. I have always said that Hublot is very much a "Biver brand." It is difficult to separate the two. When I see most Hublot watches in my mind I see his red tinted face and boyish smile announcing it with pride. Good luck to Ricardo who has some big shoes to fill, but who has been trained well for the job.
Official Statement from Hublot:
All of us at Hublot are very pleased to inform you that Mr. Ricardo Guadalupe, former Managing Director of the Company, and personal friend of Mr. Jean Claude Biver with whom he has been working since nearly 20 years, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer effective January 1st 2012.
This step was planned a long time ago in consideration of Mr. Guadalupe’s significant and instrumental achievements together with Mr. Jean Claude Biver since joining Hublot in 2005.
Mr. Jean Claude Biver will continue to serve Hublot as the company’s Chairman of the Board, and as in the past give his precious insights into business strategy and product development. As the official spokesperson of Hublot, Mr. Biver will also coordinate communications activities with the press, collectors as well as trade and industry.
“There is a time for learning, a time for doing, a time for handing over, and a time for moving on. I’ve happily made it safe and sound to the hand-over stage. With the gratification of being able to hand over to a friend and colleague of more than twenty years. And happiness at the prospect of remaining part of the team on matters relating to strategy, products and corporate relations.” -- Jean-Claude Biver