By  on May 10, 2007

PARIS — Balenciaga is about to welcome a new president and chief executive, WWD has learned.

Gucci Group will reveal today that Isabelle Guichot, currently president and ceo of Sergio Rossi, is to take the helm of one of the conglomerate's fastest-growing brands, designed by Nicolas Ghesquière, effective Monday.

The appointment was precipitated by the imminent departure of James McArthur, a 12-year Gucci veteran who holds several titles at the world's third-largest conglomerate. McArthur, president and ceo of Balenciaga since 2003, also had oversight responsibility for the Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney businesses and is Gucci Group's executive vice president and director of strategy and acquisitions.

McArthur's next move could not be learned.

Alexis Babeau, Gucci Group's executive vice president and chief financial officer, will add responsibility for strategy and acquisitions.

Guichot will do double duty at Balenciaga and Sergio Rossi until her successor at Rossi is installed.

"We are sorry to see James leave the group," Robert Polet, Gucci Group's president and ceo, said in a statement. "He has contributed greatly to assembling the excellent portfolio of brands that Gucci Group has built."

A New Zealand native, McArthur is a prominent Gucci executive from the Tom Ford/Domenico De Sole era. He joined Gucci Group in 2000 from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, where he had been managing director, and where Gucci was a key client dating back to the company's initial public offering in 1995. Among the companies acquired during McArthur's reign were Bottega Veneta, Boucheron, Balenciaga, Bedat & Co. and stakes in McQueen and McCartney. At Balenciaga, McArthur orchestrated the brand's international expansion and helped bring it to profitability two years ahead of schedule.

Guichot joined Gucci Group in 2005 from Compagnie Financière Richemont, where she had been ceo for both the Lancel and Van Cleef & Arpel brands.

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