Gucci CEO Bizzarri To Exit; Kering Names Group Veteran To Run Transition

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Kering has named managing director Jean-Francois Palus as Gucci’s new CEO and president for a transitional period, part of a management reshuffle at the top ranks of the French luxury goods group aimed at restoring momentum at its star label.

Marco Bizzarri, who has led Gucci since 2015, will leave the company on Sept. 23, the French owner of the Italian brand said.

“Jean-Francois has been my right-hand man and a daily sparring partner for several decades. He will now focus his energy on getting our largest asset in top shape,” Kering (EPA: PRTP) Chairman and CEO Francois-Henri Pinault said in a statement Tuesday.

Gucci, sales of which have lagged rivals such as Louis Vuitton and Hermes in recent quarters, has already begun to change artistic direction with this year’s appointment of Sabato De Sarno, a relatively unknown designer, as creative director.

Bizzarri was the architect of Gucci’s stellar growth in 2015-2019, but the brand failed to bounce back as strongly as its rivals after the pandemic.

“Kering is in transition, as the relaunch of its mega-brand Gucci is still a work in progress,” said Bernstein analyst Luca Solca, noting that Bizzarri’s departure seemed timed to give visibility ahead of De Sarno’s debut fashion show in Milan in September.

HSBC downgraded its rating on shares of the French group to hold from buy in late June, saying there were no signs of improvement at Gucci yet, with the brand’s performance “disappointing quarter after quarter, lagging behind luxury sector peers”.

“Some investors are clearly asking for a change of Gucci CEO even if that leads to a brand reset with margins being cut before any rebound is seen,” said HSBC at the time.

As part of the changes, Francesca Bellettini, who has run fast-growing fashion label Yves Saint Laurent since 2013, has been named Kering’s deputy CEO in charge of brand development.

Group finance chief Jean-Marc Duplaix has also been named Kering deputy CEO in charge of operations and finance.

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