It was known for some time already that François-Henry Bennahmias, the current CEO of Audemars Piguet, was about to step down from his position. As explained in this article of June 2022, Audemars Piguet officially confirmed the departure of its boss at the end of 2023 (at the latest). What remained unknown, up until now, was the name of the substitute. We knew somehow, through rumours and indiscretions, that AP was interested in naming a woman, in order to bring a new vibe to the brand. And now, according to an editorial published a few minutes ago in Le Temps (here, in French), the name has been given. In the very near future, Audemars Piguet will be guided by Ilaria Resta, previously President Perfumery at Firmenich, a Swiss company in the fragrance and flavour business.
François-Henry Bennahmias joined Audemars Piguet some 30 years ago. He began his career at AP in 1994 and became the managing director of North America in 1999. He has been at the helm of the brand for the past decade (since 2012). He will leave the company in excellent shape with revenues of about 2 Billion Swiss Francs, making it the fourth player in the Swiss Watch industry below (Rolex, Cartier and Omega), with a production of about 50,000 pieces last year – according to the Morgan Stanley Research report on the state of the industry in 2022. Under his guidance, Audemars has reached an impressive level of sales, almost doubling its turnover in the past 3 years.
When arriving at the head of the brand in 2012, François-Henry Bennahmias always expressed his wish to stay in this position for 10 years. It has been announced last year that Audemars Piguet, by means of its board composed of members of the Audemars and Piguet families, was looking for a replacement for Bennahmias, confirming his idea to move to other activities – what FHB will later do has not yet been disclosed, either by AP or himself.
In an article published earlier today, Swiss newspaper Le Temps has announced the name of the future CEO of Audemars Piguet; Ilaria Resta. According to her biography on the website of her previous employer, Firmenich SA, Ms. Resta was named President, Global Perfumery in March 2020. Her mission was to lead “organizational change and pioneering digital innovation to lead Perfumery into new markets, augment creative excellence, and drive sales for winning performance with our customers.” She had more than 22 years of experience with Procter & Gamble, building several brands for the Group. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Economics from the University of Naples and a Master’s in Financial Mathematics.
She’s moving from a Swiss family-owned company that is known as one of the key leaders in the world of fragrance and flavour, Firmenich. This nomination confirms the rumours we’ve heard in the past few months – that it would be a woman, and that she would come from another area of the luxury industry. Ilaria Resta will be one of the very few women CEO of a major brand, as only Jaeger LeCoultre also comes to mind.
Always according to Le Temps, “She will join the manufacture next August to ensure a smooth transition with François-Henry Bennahmias and will officially take up her new position on January 1, 2024” (translated from French). That being said, the task won’t be easy, with the impressive level of sales achieved recently by Audemars Piguet, despite being almost a mono-product brand. She will probably have the mission to diversify the offer of AP but also to keep the sales at such a level, despite a slower market.