Justin Stead has stepped down as the chief executive of Aurum Group, owner of Mappin & Webb, Watches of Switzerland and Goldsmiths.
According to a statement seen by WatchPro, Stead has left the business to pursue ‘new challenges and experiences’. He has been with Aurum for eight years, six as CEO, and is credited with implementing a clearer strategy and vision, and improving company values.
In a 2012 interview with WatchPro’s sister publication Professional Jeweller, Stead said that Aurum was boosting staff morale having recognised and addressed various problems in-house, with Stead stating that Aurum was “not a one-man band”.
Stead joined Aurum as chief operating officer in 2006, but took over as chief executive 18 months later when Goldsmiths founder and former chairman and chief executive Jurek Piasecki stepped down.
Commenting on his departure, Stead said: “I have been absolutely delighted to be part of the Aurum team and the incredible journey we have been on. For me personally, that mountain has now been climbed and it is time for new challenges and experiences.”
Aurum has hired Ralph Lauren EMEA group president Brian Duffy as its new group chief executive. He joins the company after nine years at Ralph Lauren, with more than 20 years’ experience in chief executive roles.
Duffy described now as an exciting time for Aurum, with the business "ideally positioned to capitalise on structural industry growth", noting the buoyant market for luxury goods in London.
He added: “We have a significant amount of opportunity to look forward to, including the launch of the 16,000 square feet Watches of Switzerland flagship store in London in June 2014. Justin Stead and his team have done a great job. I would like to thank Justin personally for his support and advice.”
Stead will be assisting Duffy during the next month to ensure ‘a seamless and orderly transition’ and will be available to Duffy and the Aurum executive team during the next 12 months as a ‘constant support’.
Aurum Group was bought by private equity firm Apollo Global Management in 2012 for about £180m. Apollo head of Europe Sanjay Patel said: “We are delighted to welcome Brian to Aurum. He brings an exceptional skillset having held CEO positions for more than 20 years. His experience in luxury brand management, luxury retailing and international business development is superlative, and we are fortunate that Brian will be bringing this expertise to Aurum as we move to the next chapter of development, implementing our flagship strategy and taking the business to its full-scale potential.”
Patel praised Stead’s efforts in growing the business, describing the clear vision, disciplined strategic planning and values that he instilled in the company. Stead is also credited with strengthening the company’s relationship with key watch suppliers.
Experienced Aurum regional manager Steve Hillman is also believed to have left the group.