Kathmandu chief Xavier Simonet to lead Austrade

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday November 30, 2020

CPSU points the finger at Services Australia’s insecure workforce for contributing to the government’s unlawful robodebt scheme.
CPSU points the finger at Services Australia’s insecure workforce arrangements for contributing to the government’s unlawful robodebt scheme. (Image: Adobe/Rafael Ben-Ari)

Kathmandu boss Xavier Simonet has been appointed chief executive officer of the Australian Trade and Investment Commission.

He replaces acting Austrade CEO Tim Beresford, who took on the role following the resignation of Dr Stephanie Fahey in July.

Trade minister Simon Birmingham on Monday said Simonet would bring strong leadership to Austrade at a time when the agency would help Australian businesses “bounce back” from economic and trade uncertainty.

“As our key agency for promoting Australian trade, investment and education to the world, and developing tourism policy, Austrade’s role in providing advice and support to Australian businesses has never been more important, as they continue to face enormous challenges,” he said.

“Bringing a distinguished career in brand sales and marketing, international market development and acquisitions, I am sure that Mr Simonet’s extensive knowledge and wide international experience will serve Australian businesses well.

“Born and raised in France, Mr Simonet and his family have chosen to make Australia their home, where he has worked for iconic Aussie brands like Seafolly and Rip Curl. He brings a passion for Australia found in many a convert alongside an international perspective that will help to identify the right opportunities and messages to boost Australian sales around the world.”

Simonet has resigned from his position as group CEO and managing director of Kathmandu Holdings after five and a half years at the company. The organisation comprises the Kathmandu, Rip Curl and Oboz brands.

Kathmandu chair David Kirk said that while the organisation is “disappointed to lose Xavier”, he is “very well credentialled” for the Austrade role.

“We wish him well in the important work he will undertake,” he said.

“Xavier will remain with us for up to six months while we undertake a comprehensive search for his successor.”

Simonet has previously worked as CEO of Radley London and international director of Seafolly Group, and spent 11 years at LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Birmingham thanked Beresford for his “strong and effective leadership of Austrade during these very challenging times”. Beresford will return to his position of deputy CEO.

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