* LVMH cites significant health issue
* Names Bulgari CEO Burke as new Louis Vuitton head
PARIS Dec 18 Louis Vuitton's new chief
executive has quit suddenly from the helm of luxury group LVMH's
top brand because of health reasons, LVMH said on
The world's largest luxury company said Jordi Constans would
be replaced by Michael Burke, chief executive since February of
Bulgari, the Italian jeweller that LVMH added to its stable last
LVMH said Constans' sudden departure after less than a month
was due to the discovery of a "significant health issue which
requires that Mr Constans focus on this priority".
Group CEO Bernard Arnault added in a statement that Burke
had "enormous experience" and "knows Louis Vuitton well".
Louis Vuitton, which is the world's biggest luxury brand in
terms of sales, with revenue of more than 7 billion euros ($9.25
billion), makes up about 75 percent of the fashion and leather
sales of LVMH.
A dual French-U.S. citizen, Burke was CEO of Christian Dior
USA from 1986 to 1993, when he took charge of Louis Vuitton
North America, becoming deputy CEO of Christian Dior Couture
worldwide in Paris in 1997.
Following the acquisition of Fendi by LVMH in 2003, he was
One trader said the unexpected news of the change at the top
of Louis Vuitton could have a negative impact on the group's
shares when trading resumes on Wednesday.
"This is a very sudden announcement, which could have a
disruptive impact on everyday operations, given Constans has
been on the ground for a few months now and that Burke, even if
he has been in the LVMH group for a while, is not a specialist
of Louis Vuitton and needs time to learn more about the brand,"
He added, however, that Yves Carcelle, previously head of
Louis Vuitton for more than 20 years, was still part of LVMH and
should provide support during the management transition.
One analyst pointed to Burke's experience at LVMH as a
($1 = 0.7568 euros)
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Louise Heavens)