Björn Gulden, who took over the Pandora Group 16 months ago to stem declining sales and profits, has left the charm brand to become CEO of Puma, the shoe company.
He will be replaced by current chairman, Allan Leighton, a superstar in the English business world best known for serving as head of Asda, a supermarket chain that was eventually acquired by Walmart. Following that, he chaired the United Kingdom mail service.
Leighton became chairman of Pandora in August 2010. This is his first CEO position since leaving Asda.
Leighton got his start working as a salesman for Mars, the British candymaker. According to a profile in The Guardian, Leighton learned a lot from watching the company owners, who would fly economy class and frequently talk to their workers. Those elements are now key parts of his management style.
“Running a company is the best job in the world, it’s the hardest job in the world, it’s the loneliest job in the world, and you can put a great team around you but, in the end, the buck stops in one place,” he told the newspaper. “And you think about it all the time. And actually, I think if you don’t, you can’t do it.”
Marcello Bottoli, currently deputy chairman at Pandora, will become chairman.
Gulden, whose background is in footwear and sports, had previously denied he was leaving the company.
“This has been a very hard decision for me to make,” Gulden said in a statement. “Pandora is a great business that is performing well, but the sports industry has always been a major part of my life, and my role at Puma will also allow my family to remain in Germany.”