Hugo Boss Replaces Brand Chief With Company Veteran Amid Turmoil

  • Christoph Auhagen leaving managing board after CEO departure
  • Move follows departures at Ferragamo, Yves Saint Laurent

Hugo Boss AG, the embattled German fashion house, said its top brand manager is leaving the board and will be replaced with an industry veteran who is returning for his third stint at the company.

Christoph Auhagen is leaving “by mutual consent," Metzingen, Germany-based Hugo Boss said in a statement. Ingo Wilts will become chief brand officer by Nov. 1.

Auhagen’s departure widens the leadership vacuum at the German suitmaker, coming two months after the resignation of Chief Executive Officer Claus-Dietrich Lahrs, whose expansion plan led to a series of profit warnings and a 50 percent plunge in the shares over the past year. The recent luxury slowdown has led to a wave of executive departures, including Salvatore Ferragamo SpA CEO Michele Norsa and Hedi Slimane, former creative director at Yves Saint Laurent.

Analysts say the company needs to streamline its multiple brand lines and move more of its sales to its own stores, to be more like competitors such as Burberry Group Plc.

The company may seek an external candidate to replace Lahrs, said Julian Easthope, an analyst at Barclays in London.

“When a brand gets itself under into trouble and the CEO goes under a cloud, an external successor is more likely,” Easthope said. Shares of Hugo Boss, which have recovered somewhat from earlier in the year, are being propped up by funds attracted by its 6 percent dividend yield.

"Other than that, it’s a completely friendless stock right now," he said. Shares of Boss were down 2.7 percent at 56.60 at 3:18 p.m. in Frankfurt.

Auhagen joined Hugo Boss in 2009 as chief brand officer and had also worked at brands including Gerry Weber and Espirit.

Wilts worked at Boss from 2000 to 2009 and again briefly in 2014, said a company spokeswoman. He was head of design from 2000 to 2004 and creative director from 2005 to 2009. He currently works at Tommy Hilfiger.

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