The widely expected promotion of Hubert Sagnières to the post of chairman and chief executive of Essilor International will take place from next Jan. 2. It will mark the end of a two-year transition period where the previous chairman and CEO, Xavier Fontanet, relinquished one of the two functions.

On Jan. 1, 2010, Fontanet remained chairman of the French group and passed on the role of CEO to Sagnières. Both have made brilliant careers at Essilor. The board of directors thanked Fontanet for the 20 years that he has devoted to the international development of the group, congratulating him on the way he has prepared his succession and his commitment to corporate governance. The board also recognized the contribution made by Sagnières during the 22 years he has spent at Essilor, and in particular in his recent role as CEO.

Fontanet, who is now 63 years old, will remain a member of the board of directors. After the announcement of his partial retirement, Fontanet received an award as “Manager of the Year” from a French business magazine, Le Nouvel Economiste, which praised his humanistic vision of globalization and his trust in other managers and entrepreneurs. He recently published a book around this theme.

Also shortly after the announcement, Fontanet was reported to have joined the board of directors of a big French industrial group, Schneider Electric.