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Chanel, global chief exec part company over strategy

[PARIS] French luxury brand Chanel on Wednesday said its global chief executive officer Maureen Chiquet would leave the company at the end of January due to "differences of opinion" over strategic direction.

American Chiquet, 52, has held the post since 2007.

The brand is famed for its creative director Karl Lagerfeld, perfumes such as Chanel No 5 and its distinctive quilted handbags.

Majority shareholder Alain Wertheimer would take over the operational management of the company pending the appointment of Ms Chiquet's replacement, Chanel said.

Alain Wertheimer and his brother Gerard are the grandsons of the label's co-founder Pierre Wertheimer.

Chanel said in a statement it was "grateful" to Ms Chiquet for what she had done to bring "Chanel into a new era of its development", adding that she had overseen the "successful international expansion of the House of Chanel, enhanced its luxury positioning and image and grew the business in each of its categories".

The luxury brand declined to comment further on Ms Chiquet's departure.

Analyst Arnaud Cadart, however, told AFP: "It's perhaps the commercial policy which has been badly received by customers," adding that Chanel had at the start of 2015 increased its prices in euros and lowered those in dollars in order to compensate for fluctuations in exchange rates, a decision that provoked frenzied buying in China and Hong Kong where customers rushed to benefit from lower prices.

Challenge magazine in 2015 placed the brothers and their family seventh among the biggest fortunes in France with their worth estimated at 16.5 billion euros (S$25.7 billion).