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.”

Relations between Polet and Santucci were described as tense, owing to divergent views on Gucci strategy. Also, Polet had been regularly calling in Bain and Co. to help with strategy, something never done during De Sole’s reign. “Why on earth would you call in management consultants if you already have good managers?” one source asked.

A source said Santucci harbored some resentment for being passed over for the top job. He sought to have his widened responsibilities entrenched in his new contract — and his salary demands were described by one PPR insider as “crazy.”

A union source inside the Gucci plant in Scandicci, Italy, said Wednesday that employees were concerned about the news, especially in light of the recent departure of human resources director Renato Ricci, considered another bridge-builder between employees and upper management.

The source said the abrupt and unexpected nature of Santucci’s departure was particularly difficult for Gucci workers, who in the past felt as though they were kept in the loop on company developments. He added that Ricci and Santucci together created a good environment for employees.

Still another source said Santucci’s style could be off-putting. “He is the type of person who would drop a phrase in Latin or Greek when talking to a factory worker in Florence,” he said.

Sources in Italy said Santucci has been characterizing his departure to friends and colleagues as a dismissal. But it is believed he would have little legal recourse since he was working without a contract.

Meanwhile, sources indicate Polet has made largely a good impression on employees. One likened Polet to De Sole and added, “he’s charismatic and seems a nice guy.”
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