PPR Tightens Reins: Gucci Tells Santucci 'You're Out' as CEO

Robert Polet, CEO of Gucci Group, took the helm of the Gucci brand and said the employment of Giacomo Santucci had been “terminated.”

Robert Polet

Robert Polet

Photo By WWD Staff

PARIS — Robert Polet, chief executive of Gucci Group, assumed the helm of the Gucci brand Wednesday, tersely announcing that the employment of Giacomo Santucci had been “terminated.”

This confirms a report in WWD Tuesday that Santucci was about to exit the $1.9 billion luxury brand.

Polet declined to elaborate on the decision, but a memo distributed to Gucci staff clearly spelled out his dissatisfaction.

“It was a difficult decision to take, but it was a necessary one,” Polet wrote in the memo. “I can’t expect anything but total loyalty, commitment and dedication from the ceo’s and top managers at all of the fantastic brands that are part of the Gucci Group.”

Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, parent of Gucci Group, also declined further comment. Santucci did not return phone calls.

But it is understood Polet’s takeover of the Gucci ceo role is not necessarily a permanent one and that external and internal successors would eventually be considered. Industry sources consider Mark Lee, ceo of Yves Saint Laurent, among the top internal candidates, along with Bottega Veneta’s Patrizio Di Marco, although some question whether Lee would be plucked from his delicate turnaround effort.

As reported, tensions between Santucci and PPR brass had reached a boiling point in recent weeks over issues of strategy, compensation and job responsibilities.

“A lot of people reported to [Santucci] and they never heard from him,” said one employee on Wednesday. “There were serious problems. I’m not surprised he’s leaving.”

Another source echoed the point: “Giacomo didn’t really have a relationship with the managing directors in certain geographical areas like Hong Kong.”

Nevertheless, Polet’s internal memo went on to thank Santucci for his contributions to Gucci’s development over the years, especially in the key areas of logistics and operations.

Polet also assured that Gucci would maintain its “commitment to quality, creativity and craftsmanship,” and held out hope that “all the talented and dedicated people who make the brand what it is today” would continue working together to create “the greatest luxury brand in the world.”

Santucci’s exit marks a dramatic end for a high-profile fashion manager, who joined Gucci in 2001 after an eight-year career at Prada. It also ushers in yet another period of uncertainty for a brand still rocked by the departures last spring of Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole, the duo who engineered its turnaround in the Nineties.
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