LONDON – The family reshuffle at Swarovski is accelerating, with longtime brand champion and founder Nadja Swarovski stepping down as a board member and leaving the company on December 31.
Swarovski, which founded the Swarovski Foundation, will also step down from that organization’s day-to-day operations and hold the title of chairman emeritus, according to a joint statement from Swarovski and the Austria-based company.
The changes come nearly two years after Swarovski left its longstanding brand and marketing role at Swarovski as part of a corporate and management shakeup that also involved a slew of layoffs.
At the time, his cousin and board member Robert Buchbauer stepped into the role of chief executive, but he has since stepped down to make way for a new CEO. Another parent, Mathias Margreiter, has given up his position as financial director. The company has launched a search for their replacements, both of whom are likely to be outside the family.
As reported last month, Swarovski also welcomed a slew of new board members from around the world – and outside of the founding family.
Nadja Swarovski was a longtime champion of young design talent, donating billions of crystals to aspiring designers including young Alexander McQueen, sponsoring their runway shows and funding myriad fashion initiatives in the UK and the United States, including Central Saint Martins, London Fashion Week, the Fashion Awards and the CFDA Awards.
Her team has also worked closely with costume designers for stage, screen and many of Madonna’s concerts.
His passion for the family’s products and pride in the brand name extends well beyond fashion and extends into the worlds of lighting and architecture as well.
On its watch, Swarovski has teamed up with architects and designers, including John Pawson, Ron Arad and Daniel Libeskind, on a series of projects, and has supplied the crystals for the Oscar stage on numerous occasions.
Swarovski said in the statement that it was “deeply grateful for the experience of working in the family business and, in particular, very closely with my father, Helmut Swarovski, who taught me so much. from Swarovski has been the most rewarding journey.
She said, “What started with creativity and design has resulted in human empowerment and sustainability, and using Swarovski’s platform to support the environment and the community has been the greatest privilege. of my career”.
Swarovski joined the company in 1995, becoming the first female board member. In 2007, she created Atelier Swarovski, the line of sustainably produced fashion, jewelry, accessories and home décor.
She oversaw the implementation of the line of unexamined diamonds and fair trade metals within the Atelier Swarovski and negotiated some 250 collaborations with designers such as Christopher Kane, Viktor & Rolf, Jean Paul Gaultier and Karl Lagerfeld.
She was a pioneer in sustainability, taking inspiration from the eco-friendly manufacturing processes used by her ancestor Daniel Swarovski 126 years ago and promoting the use of unused crystals in fashion and jewelry collections.
Luisa D. Delgado, Chairman of the Board, said Swarovski has left an “indelible mark on the company. His contribution over the years has been instrumental in bringing Swarovski to the forefront of the fashion industry. This will remain his legacy. We are happy to be able to continue to count on Nadja’s involvement in the Swarovski Foundation in the future.
Board member Markus Langes-Swarovski said Swarovski’s greatest legacy is the progress “the company has made in sustainability and ethics under his skillful leadership. We are grateful for his continued involvement in the Swarovski Foundation, which is an important pillar of the company’s and family’s enduring commitment.
Until now, Nadja has devoted herself full-time to the Swarovski Foundation, which she created in 2013 and which has sustainability, environmental and social issues at its heart.
Earlier this year, the foundation unveiled a program to stimulate creative talent in various sectors, including design, fashion and engineering, to create, invent and manufacture sustainably.
Known as the “Swarovski Foundation Institute: Creatives for Our Future”, the new global grant program was designed with the United Nations Office for Partnerships.
The goal is to “identify and accelerate” the next generation of creative sustainability leaders.
Earlier in December, the first cohort of young creative talents presented their final projects for sustainable development during a virtual graduation ceremony with the United Nations Office for Partnerships.
Ideas presented at the ceremony included a card game that helps teach sign language; a renewable electricity generator designed to supply electricity to remote rural areas; and a line of shoes created with a new material made from kombucha cultures.
Global applications for the next cohort will open in March 2022.
As noted, Swarovski International Holding AG, based in Wattens, Austria, strives to separate “controlling and management roles,” which have always been led by descendants of founder Daniel Swarovski.
As a result of this new strategy, Buchbauer and Margreiter have retired from day-to-day operations and continue to “help shape the future of the company” as board members.
Swarovski said it was open to the possibility of non-family management and planned to reorganize and expand the company’s various boards “to suitably qualified and independent people”.
The family interests, meanwhile, will be grouped together in a newly created holding company.