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Leadership changes for Esprit Holdings

Leadership changes have been announced by apparel brand Esprit Holdings in Hong Kong.

Jose Manuel Martínez Gutierrez will step down as group CEO and executive director of the company on June 1, with Anders Kristiansen appointed as his successor.

As a precursor to the change of CEO, chairman Dr Raymond Or Ching Fai will assume the role of executive director on April 1, to play a more active role in the next phase of the group’s strategy, including an ambitious expansion plan for China, the company said in a regulatory filing.

“We very much regret losing Mr Martinez, as his contribution has been most valuable to Esprit,” said Or.

Over the past five years Martinez had reversed a severe decline in the group’s results by stabilising procedures, restructuring and improving overall profitability.

“After this phase of bottomline recovery, the group enjoys a sound financial position, with no debt and net cash of HK$4.5 billion.”

Martinez, whose resignation is for personal reasons, said he was leaving the group “strong and well equipped” and he believes the new leadership will bring a positive impulse to take on the challenges ahead.

“I will stay on to support a smooth transition into the new scheme.”

Or says incoming CEO Kristiansen is a well-rounded and seasoned executive in the fashion industry with extensive experience in business development both in Europe and Asia, especially China.

“Our objective will be to recapture market share and ultimately return the company to growth,” said Kristiansen.

Or, 68, was appointed as independent non-executive director in March 1996 and became chairman in June 2012.

Or is also a director of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Regina Miracle International (Holdings) and Television Broadcasts. He has entered into a service contract with Esprit, which may be terminated by either party on 12 months’ notice.

Kristiansen, 51, is an industrial advisor for a global private equity fund Permira. He was previously CEO and director of New Look, a global fast-fashion apparel company based in London. Before this, he held senior executive roles in the Bestseller Fashion Group China, Staples China, and Lyreco, an office supplies company.

Kristiansen has also entered into an employment contract with Esprit subject to 12 months’ notice of termination by either party.

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