By and  on September 21, 2010

Ermenegildo Zegna said Monday that Robert Ackerman, president and chief executive officer of the men’s wear firm’s operations in North America, will retire at the end of the year and be succeeded by Robert Aldrich, who is currently executive vice president of wholesale.

Ackerman has led the North American business for six years. He will continue to support the business through 2011 as a board member of EZCO and a consultant.

“The U.S. and Canada continue to be very important markets for our further growth and brand development,” said Gildo Zegna, chief executive officer of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group. “I am confident that with [Aldrich’s] deep knowledge of the men’s wear business and with his ability to successfully build strong strategic relationships with our wholesale partners, he will thrive in surmounting the business challenges that lay ahead.”

Paolo Vaccari will replace Aldrich in the principal role of senior vice president of wholesale, effective Dec. 1. He has worked for the company in Europe and America for 15 years, most recently as category director for ties and accessories out of the Milan headquarters.

In other Zegna news, the company has signed a venture with India’s Reliance Brands Ltd. to grow the label in that region.

Zegna’s Mumbai-based division, Zegna South Asia Private Ltd., will be reorganized as a venture between Ermenegildo Zegna Group and Reliance Brands Ltd. (part of the Reliance Group), with the two parties controlling 51 and 49 percent, respectively.

Since entering the market in 2003, India has seen “significant double-digit growth” and could “potentially” become the group’s largest market in Southeast Asia by 2015, according to Gildo Zegna.

“Strategically, India is one of the markets with the highest growth potential,” he said. The group plans to open more than 10 stores in the region over the next five years, starting with its first store in Hyderabad in October.

“Given the rising aspirations and influence of western luxury on the Indian consumer, this partnership is well timed,” said Darshan Mehta, president and ceo of Reliance Brands.

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