Gucci ousts leadership duo after sales decline

Fri Dec 12, 2014 7:11am EST
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By Astrid Wendlandt

PARIS (Reuters) - The owners of Gucci parted company with the Italian fashion brand's leadership duo on Friday, promoting the head of their luxury goods business to the top job in response to slumping sales.

Gucci, which provides the bulk of operating income for parent company Kering (PRTP.PA: Quote), had long said that declining sales were a result of trying to move the brand further upmarket and tough trading, particularly in China.

Deciding it was now time for a change at the top, Kering promoted luxury couture and leather goods division head Marco Bizzarri to become Gucci chief executive from Jan. 1. He replaces Patrizio di Marco, who has led the brand for almost six years.

Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini will leave her post at the end of February after eight years, with a replacement for that key post to be appointed later. Di Marco and Giannini are a couple who have a daughter.

Bizzarri, an Italian who joined Kering in 2005 as head of the Stella McCartney business, is credited with building Bottega Veneta -- known for its intrecciato leather weaving technique -- into one of the industry's strongest and most profitable brands.

Today it is Kering's second-largest contributor of sales and profit. Kering also controls sportswear brand Puma (PUMG.DE: Quote) and luxury label Saint Laurent.

"Marco Bizzarri will support Gucci's brand elevation strategy... and develop the iconic Florentine house throughout the changing world of luxury," Kering said.

Kering Chairman and CEO Francois-Henri Pinault will take interim charge of the luxury couture and leather goods division until a new executive is appointed.   Continued...

Designer Frida Giannini (L) chats with Gucci CEO Patrizio Di Marco at the new Gucci flagship store on its opening day in Shanghai in this file photo taken on June 6, 2009. REUTERS/Nir Elias