By  on January 11, 2006

NEW YORK — Daniella Vitale has been promoted to Gucci America's president, effective Jan. 16.

The company's vice president and director of wholesale will replace Patricia "Pat" Malone, who resigned to pursue other interests, according to an internal company memo sent out on Tuesday by Mark Lee, Gucci's chief executive officer. Malone, a Gucci veteran, has been with the company for 17 years. Her last day is Friday.

"Pat and I have been discussing her desire to move on from Gucci for some time and planning together the designation of her successor in order to allow for an orderly continuation of the business," Lee said in the memo.

The Gucci ceo explained that a year ago, Malone indicated her interest to leave and proposed Vitale as her successor.

"I would like to thank Pat for agreeing to delay her departure until this time, as well as for the outstanding 2005 business results that she delivered with the entire Gucci America team," Lee said.

Vitale joined Gucci America as director of wholesale in 1999. Prior to that, she was vice president of wholesale at Giorgio Armani Corp., and earlier was merchandise manager for Salvatore Ferragamo.

In the statement, Lee said that, during Vitale's tenure at Gucci, the American wholesale business increased by more than 54 percent between 2000 and 2004. She also oversaw the brand's South American and Caribbean franchisees. In her new role, she will report directly to Lee.

"Under Daniella's leadership, 2005 has been an exceptional year for American wholesale, as the full-year results will demonstrate when communicated in the coming weeks," Lee said.

Malone joined Gucci's U.S. division in 1985 and, after a three-year stint as merchandise manager at Fendi USA, returned to the fashion brand in 1994. In 1995, she moved to Florence to take the post of director of global merchandising at Gucci. She became the New York-based president of Gucci America in 1997.

Her tenure coincided with the brand's explosive growth under the creative direction of Tom Ford. In the eight years Malone was president of Gucci America, the brand's number of directly owned stores grew from 20 to 37 by the end of last year. Lee added that, in that time frame, sales of Gucci America "effectively doubled."

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