By  on June 7, 2006

PARIS — Tapping deep management reserves at Louis Vuitton to fast-track one of its most promising brands, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton on Tuesday named Bertrand Stalla-Bourdillon as chairman and chief executive officer of Marc Jacobs International.

And no one could be happier than Jacobs president Robert Duffy, who told WWD he's been after the executive for three years. "I requested him many times. I am extremely, extremely excited about it," Duffy said.

"It's a win-win as far as I can tell," added Duffy. "Now I can concentrate on the things I like: merchandising, product development, working with Marc and our retail network."

A 20-year veteran of the French luxury group, Stalla-Bourdillon, 48, is currently general manager of finance and administration at Louis Vuitton. He will step down from that role in September, but continue on as ceo of Berluti, a Paris-based maker of high-end men's footwear and leather goods.

"[Marc Jacobs] has grown so much that they need someone dedicated," said Vuitton chairman Yves Carcelle, reached Tuesday evening in Tokyo, where Jacobs was receiving an award from the Fashion Editors Club in Japan. "[Stalla-Bourdillon] will be very dedicated to the future of Marc Jacobs."

A Vuitton spokeswoman said Eric Pradon, head of finance at French media group Canal Plus, would succeed Stalla-Bourdillon as Vuitton's director of administration and finance.

An affable, upbeat executive with a passion for products and brand lore, Stalla-Bourdillon long has been a champion of Jacobs within LVMH and assumed the title of chairman of Jacobs in 2004 when the designer signed a new 10-year employment contract with Vuitton. On Tuesday, LVMH said Stalla-Bourdillon would be based in Paris but would travel extensively, working closely with the designer and Duffy to develop the business worldwide.

"The DNA of this brand is incredible, " Stalla-Bourdillon said in an interview from New York. "It's been so well done by Robert and Marc. They did an incredible marketing job and now we need to develop the brand at a worldwide level. There are a lot of ways to develop the business."

A graduate of engineering and business administration from top French school HEC, Stalla-Bourdillon started his career at IBM and joined LVMH in 1986, assuming increasing responsibilities for brands including Loewe and Vuitton. He has headed fast-growing Berluti since 1995.The ceo slot at Marc Jacobs has been vacant since November 2003, when Jeffry Aronsson was moved over to Donna Karan International, another LVMH brand. And it has proved a tough one to fill, with at least one executive search coming up empty. The new contracts for Jacobs and Duffy gave them the right of refusal over the naming of executives.

The Marc Jacobs holding firm is 96 percent owned by LVMH, although Jacobs and Duffy each retain a one-third interest in the Marc Jacobs trademarks.

Market sources say the brand has more than doubled its volume since 2003, with revenues now around 200 million euros, or $259.1 million at current exchange. LVMH and Stalla-Bourdillon declined all comment on any figures.

Stalla-Bourdillon arrives at a time of rapid growth on the brand's retail and product fronts. The designer is expanding his children's wear and watch businesses, while continuing to plant boutiques around the world, from Paris to San Francisco, for his Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs brands. A London flagship is slated to bow before the end of the year, and sources said Jacobs is zeroing in on a Madison Avenue flagship around 73rd Street for an opening next year.

In an interview, Duffy said he's researching locations in Honolulu and in California, and plotting "lots of locations for Marc by Marc Jacobs. We need to be in special locations because that's what our customer wants."

This is hardly the first time LVMH has raided talent at Vuitton in aid of another brand. In March, Vuitton's number-two executive, managing director Serge Brunschwig, was appointed president and ceo of Celine.

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