Kowalski to replace Chaney as Tiffany & Co. chairman

William R. Chaney, 70, will retire as chairman of the board of Tiffany & Co. on Jan. 31, the company said in a statement on Thursday. He will continue to serve on Tiffany’s board of directors, the company.

The board named Michael J. Kowalski, 50to replace Chaney as chairman and also continue as CEO. Kowalski joined Tiffany in 1983. He was elected president in 1997 and assumed the CEO position in 1999.

James E. Quinn, 50, will replace Kowalski as president. He joined Tiffany in 1987, was selected executive vice president in 1992 and vice chairman in 1997. Tiffany’s U.S. Retail, Business Sales, Direct Marketing, and International Sales groups, as well as the associated Store Planning section, will continue to report to Quinn.

Chaney has been Tiffany’s chairman since 1984, when he led the company’s leveraged buyout, followed by its initial public offering in 1987. Under his leadership, Tiffany & Co., a leading international jewelry retailer, has become one of the world’s premiere luxury brands.

“The fundamental strategic vision that Bill Chaney first articulated in 1983 continues to serve Tiffany remarkably well today,” said Kowalski, commenting on Chaney’s achievements. “His emphasis on carefully controlled retail store expansion, his mandate to maintain a singular focus on Tiffany’s core categories of jewelry, watches and gifts, and his insistence on an uncompressing commitment to product and service excellence remain at the heart of Tiffany’s extraordinary success.

“Most importantly,’ said Kowalski, “Bill Chaney established a corporate culture that has focused on creating a long-term shareholder value, while simultaneously honoring and enhancing Tiffany’s 166-year legacy as one of America’s great business institutions. Although we will miss his daily leadership greatly, we are confident this strategic vision will endure.”

In a statement, Chaney said it was “a great source of satisfaction and confidence for me and our board that Mike Kowalski will assume the role of chairman of the board along with his current responsibilities as chief executive officer.

“During the past 20 years, Mike has served Tiffany & Co. with great success in a wide variety of responsibilities. During these past four years, he has led the company through a challenging period with great distinction. I cannot imagine a more capable or more qualified leader of Tiffany & Co. for the years ahead than Mike Kowalski.”