VSP Global has announced the retirement of Claudio Gottardi as president of Marchon Eyewear and the appointment of another Italian executive, Nicola Zotta, as his successor. The transition had been under preparation for more than a year, but had been kept under wraps.

Gottardi, who has spent nearly 30 years in the eyewear industry, reached the age of 60 this month. In a public statement, he said he had decided to spend more time with his family and for his passion for the arts. He told us that he was planning to retire at 55, but then kept pushing on.

Gottardi has been running Marchon since 2009. Prior to that, he spent 24 years at Safilo, after working for a couple of years as Italian marketing manager of W.L. Gore & Associates, the American supplier of breathable textile membranes. He started off at Safilo in 1985 as area manager for Central Europe.

Gottardi moved to the U.S. in 1989 to act as vice president of new business development. He came back to Italy four years later to serve as Safilo's marketing manager, but moved back to the U.S. in 1996 to run its U.S. subsidiary, pulling the company ahead of Luxottica in the country. Ten years later, in 2006, he was made joint chief executive of Safilo, working in tandem with Massimiliano Tabacchi, son of the group's chairman, Vittorio Tabacchi, but left the group two years later, in June 2008, a few months after Roberto Vedovotto took over Safilo's helm.

Zotta, who is now 44 years old, worked together with Gottardi at Safilo for almost 15 years, handling sales roles in France, Spain, Portugal and the Benelux countries, and ending as group vice president of marketing and licensing. He lived for ten years in Paris.

Zotta joined Marchon at the same time as Gottardi, in 2009. He has been acting since then as managing director of the company for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), adding later responsibility for the Asia-Pacific region. In these roles, he has been splitting his residency between Brussels and Padua. In his new role, he will relocate with his family to New York, where Marchon has its head office.