Biel, Switzerland and New York—Diamonds will have a new best friend. On Friday, Swatch Group, which paid $1 billion for the legendary U.S. jewelry company Harry Winston in January, named Nayla Hayek, chairwoman at Swatch Group and daughter of the late Nicolas Hayek, who build the company into the world’s largest watch company, as chief executive office, effective immediately.
According to Beatrice Howald, a Swatch Group spokesperson, Nayla Hayek had been serving as chairwoman already at Harry Winston, a role she undertook when Swatch acquired the jewelry earlier this year.
Nayla Hayek replaces Frederic de Narp, who had been CEO since January 2010 when he left Cartier where he was CEO for that brand’s North American business. Nayla Hayek’s brother, Nick Hayek Jr., is chief executive of Swatch Group. The Hayek family is believed to control about 40% of Swatch Group, a company that posted 2012 sales that were up 16% to $7.66 billion.
While Swatch Group owns nearly two dozen brands, mostly watches, its purchase of Harry Winston is seen as a challenge to rival Cartier, which is owned by Cie. Financiere Richemont SA. Since LVMH’s purchase of Bulgari, major luxury conglomerates have been vying to add international branded jewelry companies to their stables.
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