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Luxottica names new co-chief executive to settle crisis

By Michael Finnigan

Family-owned eyewear group Luxottica has announced a new co-chief executive this week in an attempt to resolve a tense management crisis that has seen two leaders quit in just over six weeks.

The Italian company said Adil Mehboob-Khan, a former Procter & Gamble executive, would join the firm in January and become part of a new management structure comprised of three top executives.

The group's chief operating officer Massimo Vian will take over as co-chief executive in the interim period, with a view to joining Mehboob-Khan and company founder Leonardo del Vecchio in the new triumvirate model. 

“Combining Mehboob-Khan and Massimo Vian will allow the group to better manage an increasingly complex global market, though one which offers great opportunity,” Del Vecchio said in an interview.

The eyewear patriarch said the duo would bring “fresh energy” and a “depth of experience” to the 53-year-old company, adding that the strategic vision of the firm would not change.

Luxottica, which has annual revenues of €7.3 billion, has been in the midst of a governance struggle ever since del Vecchio decided to leave retirement in August and take a more active role in the business.

Former chief executive Andrea Guerra, who is widely considered the reason why Luxottica is now the largest eyewear business in the world, stepped down shortly after his return following a disagreement over the direction of the company.

Guerra's replacement, former chief financial officer Enrico Cavatorta, left the firm just 40 days after taking up his mantle having disagreed with del Vecchio over the scope of his powers.

Luca Solca, luxury analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, told CampdenFB in August that del Vecchio was one of the rare examples of a family business leader that had done a good job of stepping back from the business, leaving Guerra to triple the value of the company's shares.

Luxottica has so far lost 2.3% of its value in 2014, leaving the eyewear firm a market valuation of €18.3 billion. 

The Milan-based company has over 7,000 retail outlets operating under different banners including Sunglass Hut and OPSM.

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