Tiffany & Co. announced that Frederic Cumenal has stepped down as chief executive officer, effective immediately.
The upscale jeweler’s board of directors is actively recruiting a successor. Chairman of the Board Michael J. Kowalski, who ceded the CEO post to Cumenal in 2014, will return as interim CEO in the meantime.
Cumenal's exit comes weeks after Tiffany announced that worldwide same-store sales declined 2% over the holiday period, weighted down by “postelection traffic disruptions” and the proximity of its flagship store (which saw sales decline 14%) to the now heavily-guarded Trump Tower in New York City. Tiffany also announced job cuts last month, but did not disclose how many employees will depart.
Tiffany has been scrambling in recent quarters as tourist sales have dropped off thanks to the strong dollar. The company has moved more assertively online, inking a deal with Net-A-Porter to reach millennials without resorting to price reductions. The iconic American jeweler’s flagship New York City store also finds itself at a disadvantage thanks to its proximity to Trump Tower, which has seen a rash of protests, especially since the November election, and with President Donald Trump stating he’ll be spending significant amounts of time at his home and office. Tiffany has taken steps to mitigate the impact of increased security on its nearby flagship store’s sales and traffic.
"The board is committed to our current core business strategies, but has been disappointed by recent financial results,” Kowalski said in a statement Sunday. “The board believes that accelerating execution of those strategies is necessary to compete more effectively in today's global luxury market and improve performance. As such, we remain focused on enhancing the customer experience, increasing the rate of new product introductions and innovation, maximizing marketing effectiveness, optimizing the store network, and improving our business operations and processes, all while efficiently managing our capital and costs."
Cumenal said he has “great confidence in Tiffany's brand, strategic direction and people,” adding "I am proud of what we have accomplished at Tiffany and would like to thank the management team and our many talented employees around the world with whom I have had the pleasure to work."
Cumenal's departure is the latest in a series of changes across Tiffany's C-suite. In September, the company named Mark Erceg, former chief financial officer of Canadian Pacific Railway, as its CFO; he replaced Ralph Nicoletti, who left after just two years to become CFO of consumer products company Newell Brands. Last month, Tiffany promoted Reed Krakoff to the newly created role of chief artistic officer: Krakoff, who spent 17 years as the creative director of accessories retailer Coach, held a senior design role at Ralph Lauren, before serving as a creative collaborator for Tiffany with the relaunch of a luxury accessories collection.