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FASHION VALUE CHAIN

Capri Holdings, the American fashion group that also owns Jimmy Choo and Versace, has appointed Cedric Wilmotte as the chief executive of its biggest label, Michael Kors, the company announced Monday.

Wilmotte, who oversees Versace’s operations at the moment, is familiar with the Kors name. He oversaw the Michael Kors division throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa from 2008 to 2021.

On April 3, Wilmotte will start in his new position, more than a year after Joshua Schulman, his predecessor, abruptly left the organisation. The plan was for Schulman to take over the entire portfolio and succeed John Idol as CEO of Capri. Idol was in charge of transforming the conglomerate into an image of a European luxury conglomerate and had been in charge of Michael Kors since 2003.

Idol said in a statement that Cedric is a “strong leader” who “has a great understanding of the Michael Kors brand and consumer.” Cedric also has substantial retail and marketing experience.

Wilmotte, like Schulman before him, will be charged with establishing a more upscale positioning for the Kors brand, which has seen its market standing eroded in recent years due to rife discounts and extensive department store distribution. This change, which was already under way when Schulman joined in 2021, has proceeded even as Michael Kors looks for a new CEO.

In recent quarters, Capri has maintained solid growth, proving so far resistant to decreasing consumer demand that has afflicted a number of its peers as well as exceeding Wall Street expectations. The company reported revenue growth of 8.6% in the most recent quarter that ended on November 9, resulting in sales of $1.4 billion. However, Capri lowered its full-year revenue expectation from $5.85 billion in the previous quarter to $5.7 billion in the same quarterly report.

Sales at the brand have mostly stagnated despite recent progress in repositioning Kors, but this is partially a result of price increases, leaving some multibrand stores, and other initiatives to increase margins. Sales for Michael Kors totaled $3.95 billion in the fiscal year that ended on April 2, 2022, down from $4.5 billion in 2019. Operating margin increased from 20 to 25 percent throughout the same time frame.

To make Michael Kors the equivalent of Gucci or Louis Vuitton in America, Wilmotte has a long way to go. Analysts point out that Capri and Michael Kors as a whole are dealing with declining wholesale orders as well as consumers who are still concerned about inflation. However, Idol has insisted that Capri won’t revert to its previous discount-heavy practises. 

Idol told analysts in November, “We’d rather have less inventory in [wholesale] and [preserve] our profits. “We don’t want to take a step backwards,” the company said. “We’ve worked extremely hard over the previous three years to elevate the Michael Kors brand.”

Investors are pleased because the approach is working. Even though some merchants saw their market capitalizations reduced by half or more, Capri stock has increased 14% in the past year.

In the end, according to Ike Boruchow of Wells Fargo, “we think there were very few holes to poke here.” “The MK brand stabilisation strategies are effective.”