* Biver hands over CEO post to Ricardo Guadalupe
* Biver says to remain chairman
* Business trends unchanged for now from last year
PARIS, Jan 6 Hublot, one of the fastest
rising watch brands within the LVMH luxury group, is
bracing itself for a more difficult year in 2012 after enjoying
record growth last year, its chairman, Jean-Claude Biver, said
Biver said Hublot's sales grew around 30 percent in 2011 -
above the industry average - with Swiss watch exports up around
"The year (2011) was exceptional but it is difficult to
believe that we will have the same kind of growth this year in
light of Europe's debt problems and concerns about the global
economy," Biver told Reuters in a telephone interview.
For the moment, trends remain unchanged from last year, he
Biver, one the watch industry's most respected figures, also
announced on Friday that he had given up the position of chief
executive of Hublot and handed it to long-time lieutenant
Ricardo Guadalupe, with whom he has worked for 20 years.
Guadalupe, who was managing director of Hublot, became CEO
on Jan. 1, while Biver remains chairman and will continue to be
the voice of the brand, he said.
Guadalupe started his career at Bulgari and worked for
several years at Swatch Group brand Blancpain before
joining Hublot in 2005.
Biver worked with Guadalupe at Swatch Group during the 12
years he spent at the world's biggest watch maker and took the
helm of Hublot in 2004 when he acquired a 20 percent stake.
After a failed management buy-out, Biver sold his holding to
LVMH, which bought 100 percent of the brand in 2008, but he
remained chairman and CEO.
"I had decided already many years ago that Ricardo would
take over as chief executive at some point," Biver said. "Now it
Hublot watches, which cost around 19,000 euros ($24,300),
are known for their bulky, sporty designs and their use of
high-tech materials such as carbon fibre.
($1 = 0.7817 euros)
(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by James Regan)