Tiffany insider tapped to become new CEO

There’s a big change coming to that little blue box.

Tiffany Chief Executive Michael Kowalski is stepping down after 15 years at the helm of the pricey jeweler, making way for President Frederic Cumenal, a former champagne exec.

Kowalski, 62, said he will retire next spring. He joined the famous retailer in 1983 and rose to CEO in 1999.

Kowalski oversaw Tiffany’s push into Asian markets, particularly Japan and China, where growth has helped offset sluggishness at home, including the company’s famous flagship store on Fifth Avenue.

But in the past two years, Tiffany has struggled to find the right balance between its famously pricey jewelry and cheaper silver trinkets, which carry higher margins and generate a quarter of sales.

Cumenal, 54, joined the jeweler in 2011 after a 15-year stint at LVMH, the French luxury conglomerate that owns Louis Vuitton. Just before joining Tiffany, Cumenal had been president and CEO of French champagne maker Moet & Chandon, part of LVMH.

“(Tiffany’s) senior management team continues to evolve into one with much broader global luxury goods experience than ever before,” Topeka Capital Markets analyst Dorothy Lakner said, citing Cumenal’s promotion as a positive.

Tiffany shares dipped 59 cents in Monday trading, closing at $99.09. The shares had been trading around $15 when Kowalski first took over as CEO.

Last September, Cumenal was promoted to president of Tiffany and given a seat on the company’s board. Tiffany is now searching for an exec to succeed Cumenal as president

Tiffany & Co. is racist: lawsuit

Tiffany & Co. keeps blacks from upper management — due to an “antiquated” view that they can’t represent a luxury brand, a black manager claims in a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court on Thursday.

Michael McClure, a group director for two Tiffany stores in Texas, says he’s the only token black among more than 200 management-level staffers nationwide who deal directly with customers — and he’s in danger of losing his job.

The threat comes from a new boss expressing surprise that “a black man was representing the Tiffany brand” and Tiffany’s history of bias, the suit says.

Tiffany spokesman Linda Buckley said the “lawsuit allegations are completely without merit,” adding, “We welcome and value diversity in all forms.”