Tiffany CEO Replaced after Trump Tower Rush Hurts Sales

Tiffany and Co. announced Sunday that it had replaced CEO Frederic Cumenal less than two years after he took the helm of the jewelry chain. He was replaced by chairman Michael Kowalski on an interim basis while the board searches for a successor.

Only last month, Tiffany reported disappointing sales results that it partly blamed on “post-election traffic disruptions” at its New York City headquarters. The store, which is right next to Trump Tower, suffered large falls in foot traffic after the president’s November victory attracted throngs of admirers, protesters, dignitaries and a beefed up security detail.

Nobody has suggested the commotion was directly behind Cumenal’s departure: business in the U.S. was also hurt by a strengthening dollar, for instance. But a 14% plunge in holiday-period sales at the company’s flagship store wouldn’t have helped his cause.

“I have great confidence in Tiffany’s’ brand, strategic direction and people, and I believe the company will have many exciting opportunities in the future.

“The board is committed to our current core business strategies, but has been disappointed by recent financial results,” Kowalski said in a statement, in which he also thanked Cumenal for improving the company’s management team and positioning it for the longer term.

Cumenal also issued a statement, suggesting his departure may not have been entirely acrimonious. “I am proud of what I achieved at Tiffany and would like to thank the management team and our many talented employees around the world with whom I have had the pleasure to work,” he said. “I have great confidence in Tiffany’s’ brand, strategic direction and people, and I believe the company will have many exciting opportunities in the future.”

Tiffany, long famed for expensive jewelry often brandished by the rich and famous, has struggled to gain traction with millennials who are less impressed with extravagance and luxury. Cumenal’s departure comes just weeks after former design director, Francesca Amfitheatrof, left the company—and on the same day that it aired its first ever Super Bowl ad, featuring Lady Gaga.

Tiffany said its board had decided the company needed to “accelerate execution” of its strategies to compete more effectively in the luxury market. “As such, we remain focused on enhancing the customer experience, increasing the rate of new product introductions and innovation, maximizing marketing effectiveness, optimizing the store network, and improving our business operations and processes,” Kowalski said.

Ross Kelly :Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.