(Adds analyst comment, shares, background)
* De Quercize to replace the retiring Fornas
* Has already worked at four Richemont 'houses'
ZURICH, March 26 (Reuters) - Swiss luxury goods group Richemont on Monday named group veteran Stanislas de Quercize as chief executive of top-of-the-range jewellery and watch maker Cartier, which makes a big chunk of group profit.
De Quercize, at present CEO of Richemont subsidiary Van Cleef & Arpels, will replace long-time Cartier chief Bernard Fornas at the end of the year when Fornas is due to retire, Richemont said.
"Losing someone of Fornas's stature is going to be difficult - he did much to build Cartier's momentum over the last decade, improving profitability and growth," said Kepler analyst Jon Cox, who estimates Cartier represents half of group sales and two-thirds of operating profit.
Shares in Richemont traded 0.7 percent higher at 1307 GMT, slightly behind a 1.1 percent firmer European personal goods index
Cox also said De Quercize had turned Van Cleef & Arpels around since his appointment, making the brand profitable and growing its credibility with buyers of high-end jewellery.
"He has been with the group a long time, knows Cartier from his time there - so the brand looks in good hands," Cox said.
De Quercize began working with Richemont in 1989, and has previously held senior positions at Cartier, Montblanc and Alfred Dunhill, as well as at Van Cleef & Arpels where he was appointed to the CEO position in 2005.
ZKB analysts said de Quercize was a potential candidate to become Richemont CEO given his long tenure and broad management experience at the company.
Cartier, which is expanding rapidly in emerging markets such as Brazil and China, is the largest of Richemont's luxury brands, which also include Vacheron Constantin and IWC.
Last year under De Quercize's leadership, Van Cleef & Arpels bolstered its own push into emerging markets, opening an outlet in Hong Kong and expanding retail space in Moscow. (Reporting by Martin de Sa'Pinto; Editing by David Holmes and Erica Billingham)