Gucci Group integrates watch business; CEO of Gucci watches to leave

The Gucci Group NV, one of the world’s leading luxury goods companies, said June 30 that it will integrate its Gucci Group Watches division into its Gucci brand division, headed by Mark Lee, its president and chief executive officer. Lee will now also oversee the watch business.

Watch industry veteran Jacques-Philippe Auriol, who has been CEO of GGW, will leave the company when his contract expires later this year. Until then, he will remain to ensure a smooth transition. In the past couple years, Auriol had overseen the reorganizing and upgrading of the Gucci brand as a luxury watch. The first fruits of that—including the new models Gucci Twirl, La Guccio and Bamboo rubber—debuted this year. Prior to joining Gucci, Auriol was with the Richemont luxury group and CEO of Baume & Mercier.

Merging the two divisions is for strategic reasons, said the Gucci Group statement. This will “combine Swiss watch expertise … with the overall brand management skills under a unified strategy,” it said. That in turn will “promote the successful development of the watch business, with its unique differentiating factors, within the Gucci brand.” The organizational change will allow the Gucci brand to “continue to logically build and strengthen over time this high-potential [watch] category,” whose core activity will remain in Switzerland.

Robert Polet, chairman and CEO of the Gucci Group said this organizational shift will “ensure that all of our luxury timepieces businesses [including Yves Saint Laurent, Boucheron and Bedat & Co] will continue their success and achieve their full potential for development, led directly by each brand.”

Gucci has been in watches since the mid-1970s.

The Gucci Group NA, part of France’s PPR (Pinault-Printemps-Redoute) luxury goods group but headquartered in the Netherlands, produces and distributes a variety of luxury items, including watches, jewelry, clothing, shoes, ties and scarves, eyewear, perfume, and cosmetics. Its brands include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Sergio Rossi, Boucheron, Bottega Veneta, Bedat & Co, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, and Balenciaga.