Sofisti to resign as president of Swatch WorldWide

Michele Sofisti, president for four years of Swatch Worldwide, the signature watch brand of the Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaker, will leave that post at year’s end to start his own consulting firm, say reports in Swiss and Italian media.

Sofisti is the fourth member of the Swatch Group’s Executive Group Management Board to leave this year.

A successor to Sofisti hadn’t been announced at press time by the Swatch Group, which confirmed his departure when contacted by the Swiss media.

Sofisti joined Swatch Group in 1995 as vice president of sales and marketing and later president of its upscale Omega watch brand. In 1999, he left to join the LVMH luxury goods group, but returned to the Swatch Group in late 2000 as president of Swatch and also Flik Flak, its children’s watch brand.

As a member of the Swatch Group’s executive board, he also was responsible for overseeing the Group’s operations in Hong Kong, China und Taiwan.

The Swatch watch brand, one of 18 owned by the Swatch Group, sells between 10 million and 20 million watches annually, according to published reports. Sofisti’s pending departure follows that of Heinz Pfeifer, longtime chief of the German luxury watch brand Glashütte Original, which Swatch Group acquired in 2000. Pfeifer also was responsible for Swatch Group Germany and was chairman, since 2003, of the Group’s supervisory board.

In August, Anton Bally, president of ETA SA, the Group’s maker of watch movements, resigned for health reasons. In June, Jean-Claude Biver, former owner and president of the luxury brand Blancpain, which Swatch Group bought in 1992, and from 2002 president of Omega, resigned to join MDM Genève as boss of its Hublot luxury watch brand.