In an interview with CNN, Jean-Claude Biver reveals he is set to retire and hand over the reins to LVMH watchmaking division to Stephane Bianchi. Bianchi will become CEO of TAG Heuer and oversee the operations of Hublot and Zenith, the other two brands in the watch division, effective November 1.
LVMH has also promoted Frédéric Arnault to the position of director of strategy and digital director at TAG Heuer. Arnault, 23, was named TAG's head of connected technology last year. He is the son of LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault.
On his impending departure, Biver discusses the decision by the group to present at the 2019 edition of the Baselworld watch fair in March.
"We already decided that we would attend (in 2019), I decided that before retiring," said the executive, who is considered an icon in the business by his peers.
Biver was also previously successful in rejuvenating firstly Blancpain which had gone out of business in the 1970s, and upon his acquisition alongside Jacques Piguet in 1981, had turned it around. When he sold the company to the Swatch Group in 1992, he joined the company's board of directors and oversaw Omega, revolutionising the brand's marketing efforts and the span of ten years, tripled sales.
Biver would later become chief executive, board member, and minority shareholder of Hublot in 2004, guiding the Swiss watch brand to success during his time in charge. In 2012, Ricardo Guadalupe was appointed as CEO in January 2012, with Biver elevated to the status as Chairman of the Board of Hublot.
His tenure from January 2014 as President of the French luxury conglomerate's watch brands has also seen him dip his hands into tweaking the directions of both TAG Heuer as well as Zenith Watches.
On the return to Baselworld next year, Biver explained, "We want to take advantage of 2019 to see together with the organizers what Basel 2020 could be. What are our wishes, our constraints (...) If we can manage that together with the fair, there is no reason we wouldn't stay."
"If we cannot find solutions (...), probably we'll leave," said Biver, who will remain as non-executive Chairman of LVMH's watch division.
"I agree with Swatch Group that the fair has never adapted to the 21st century, it is true."