Westfield owner appoints new group chief executive

Westfield owner appoints new chief executive
No immediate changes have been announced for the House of Fraser store.
// Unibail-Radamco-Westfield announces Jean-Marie Tritant as group chief executive
// Tritant will replace Christophe Cuvillier who will leave business on January 1
// Appointment comes days after URW announced new chairman of the board Léon Bressler

Shopping centre operator Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) has appointed Jean-Marie Tritant as chairman of the Unibail management board and group chief executive.

Tritant will replace Christophe Cuvillier who will leave the business on January 1 after a short transition phase.

Tritant joined Unibail in 1997 as a project manager in the offices division, before later becoming president of the group’s US division.

READ MORE: Westfield owner to raise £3.2bn as it posts improving sales & footfall

“A transition phase is beginning for URW. I am delighted that Christophe Cuvillier has agreed to lead it for the group. His long experience as CEO, particularly during the ongoing health and economic crisis, will be very valuable. I am convinced that Jean-Marie will lead the company with great success,” URW chairman of the supervisory board of URW SE Léon Bressler said.

“During this transition phase, I will work as always to protect the group and help it go through this major crisis. I wish every success in his new position to Jean-Marie Tritant, with whom I have worked for close to 10 years. I wish that the group continues to nurture its spirit of innovation and pursues an ambition commensurate with the quality of its teams and assets,” Cuvillier said.

The appointment marks more change at the top after URW shareholders blocked plans for a EUR 9 billion (GBP 8 billion) turnaround strategy.

With URW facing mounting pressure to pay down its EUR 24 billion (GBP 21.5 billion) debt, the group set out a turnaround plan in September dubbed Reset in order to raise funds.

At the time, URW said footfall across its Continental European shopping centres had fallen by a range of 80 and 90 per cent on last year’s footfall figures due to the impact of coronavirus.

The property giant announced plans to strengthen its balance sheet and increase financial flexibility under Reset, which involved a strategy of asset sales, reducing costs and raising capital.

In a board meeting last week, the Westfield owner saw plans for raising capital blocked by Xavier Niel and Bressler, according to a report by Property Week.

The investors argued the company should look to sell or borrow shares, rather than dilute them with a rights offer.

According to Property Week, Cuvillier claimed that the capital-raising was integral to the company’s efforts to protect its credit rating and balance sheet.

At a board meeting on November 13 the URW said it had taken note of the resignation of its board chairman Colin Dyer, who will remain a member of the board.

This was alongside the resignation of four other members including vice chairman Jacques Stern, Philippe Collombel, Sophie Stabile and Jacqueline Tammenoms Bakker.

Bressler was announced chairman of the board with immediate effect.

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