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Vertu's sudden CEO swap spells trouble after Chinese buyout

Is the acquisition working out for this luxury phone maker?

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It's only been three months since we met Vertu's then freshly-appointed CEO Billy Crotty, an Irishman who was brought in by the company's new Chinese owner, but for reasons unknown, it appears that he's already left the luxury phone maker. That's according to the LinkedIn page of Gordon Watson, who has since been promoted from VP of Sales and Marketing to CEO. Needless to say, it's an unusually short stint for such an important role, though there were already signs of trouble beforehand with the recent departures of other key execs.

A quick search on the web shows that since Crotty's appointment back in October, Vertu had already lost its COO, VP Product & Marketing, Brand & Marketing Director and, most recently, the Regional Head of Sales in the Middle East -- a key market for Vertu. Bizarrely, most of these positions have yet to be filled, the risk of which is probably akin to sailing a dinghy through a wild storm sans navigation.

We can't help but worry that Vertu's Chinese owner, Godin Holdings, has something to do with this seeming vacuum in its executive team. In our previous interview, Crotty vowed to keep Vertu's manufacturing base in the UK, as it was apparently "one of the principal reasons why Godin invested in and acquired" this eccentric company. With him and the other key execs gone, we do wonder if this promise will no longer be kept? And does the new Vertu have what it takes to tackle the declining luxury market until it recovers later this year? That will be the big challenge for Watson.

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