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Hugo Boss CEO steps down after weak China, U.S. sales
February 25, 2016 / 12:59 PM / 2 years ago

Hugo Boss CEO steps down after weak China, U.S. sales

BERLIN (Reuters) - Hugo Boss (BOSSn.DE)​ Chief Executive Claus-Dietrich Lahrs is stepping down after eight years at the helm of the German fashion house after the share price tumbled following a profit warning on weak sales in China and the United States.

The logo of German fashion house Hugo Boss is seen on a bag at their outlet store in Mezingen near Stuttgart October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Dalder/Files

Hugo Boss shares fell to their lowest level in five years on Tuesday and Wednesday after the firm said it expects sales to grow more slowly than its long-term forecast in 2016 and adjusted operating profit to fall.

The stock rose after Lahrs’ departure was announced to trade up 2.5 percent at 1319 GMT (08:19 a.m. EST), ahead of a 1.9 percent firmer Stoxx 600 index , but is still down 31 percent this year.

Hugo Boss said it would start without delay to find a successor to Lahrs, who it said was leaving with effect of Feb. 29 “upon his request as part of a mutual agreement”.

Lahrs, a 52-year-old German who previously worked for Cartier, LVMH (LVMH.PA)and Christian Dior, joined Boss in 2008.

Together with former private equity owner Permira, he drove the German company on a global expansion drive, increasing sales by almost two thirds as the brand opened about 100 new stores annually and expanded into women’s wear.

Hugo Boss’s stock had more than doubled in value since Pemira’s Red & Black investment vehicle took it over in 2007, but Permira sold off its remaining stake last year, leaving Italy’s Marzotto family as the biggest shareholder.

However, the company has stumbled as global sales of luxury goods have slowed, particularly in China.

Boss said on Tuesday it would bring prices in Asia down closer to levels in Europe and the Americas and limit the distribution of its core brand in the U.S. wholesale business to try to avoid the impact of a market dominated by big discounts.

Boss said Bernd Hake, currently responsible for the Europe, Middle East, Africa and India regions, will take responsibility for sales and retail as a new member of the managing board from March 1.

Lahrs’ other responsibilities will be taken on by other members of the board until a successor is found, Boss said.

Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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