Chanel has appointed Leena Nair as global CEO, making her the company’s youngest and first female CEO after a 30-year career at consumer goods conglomerate Unilever. According to the Financial Times, she will take over as president at the end of January 2022.
Nair will succeed Alain Wertheimer, who co-owns Chanel with his brother Gérard and succeeded Maureen Chiquet, who left the company in 2016 due to “differences of opinion about strategic direction.” When Nair begins her tenure, Wertheimer will take over as global executive chair.
Nair and Wertheimer “will further ensure [Chanel’s] long-term success as a private company,” the luxury label said in a statement released on Tuesday (Dec. 14). She expressed her excitement about the new role in a tweet shortly after Chanel made the announcement.
Nair joined Unilever in 1992 and as global head of HR oversaw more than 150,000 employees in more than 100 countries.
“Nair has established a global reputation for progressive and human-centered leadership, delivering significant business impact,” Chanel said in a statement announcing the appointment.
Chanel’s chief financial officer stated in June that the company was on track to increase revenues by “double digits” this year compared to pre-pandemic levels of $12.3 billion, owing primarily to U.S. and Chinese consumers.
ThredUP, a resale marketplace, recently estimated that “the secondhand market is expected to double in the next five years, reaching $77 billion by 2025.” Meanwhile, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), a fashion industry trade journal, recently reported that “resale is expected to grow 11 times faster than the broader retail clothing sector to reach $47 billion.”
“We want to maintain control over our distribution, and I believe that approach was an early contributor to the brand’s success,” Chanel President of Fashion Bruno Pavlovsky told WWD. “We’ve spent the last 20 years securing that control, and we’re not going to give it up now with secondhand market partnerships.”
“You can’t personify luxury and want to control everything at the same time.” “It’s important for our customers to be able to resell items, but we’ve decided not to participate in that process,” he explained.