By and  on January 8, 2010

Prada is said to have zeroed in on a new U.S. chief.

The company is about to name François Kress president and chief executive officer of New York-based Prada USA, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Kress, the former managing director of Bulgari’s jewelry, watch and accessories division, will replace Graziano de Boni, who left Prada in late October to head up the newly formed Reed Krakoff division at Coach Inc.Kress left Bulgari in September.

Until Kress’ appointment, which is said to be effective today, Prada SpA chief operating officer Sebastian Suhl had taken on the additional responsibilities for the U.S.

Prada could not be reached for comment.

Finding the right match for the high-profile, top job at Prada has been somewhat challenging. The job was vacant for more than two years before de Boni was named in May 2008. De Boni was in that post for less than 18 months before decamping to Reed Krakoff.

Prada last week was the subject of reports that it was in talks to sell a third of its shares to Compagnie Financière Richemont SA to fuel expansion. The Italian brand categorically denied this, while sources close to Richemont described them as “just silly.”

Amsterdam-based Prada Holding, through which ceo Patrizio Bertelli and designer Miuccia Prada control 95 percent of Prada SpA, has debts of 650 million euros, or $927.1 million. Prada SpA, which operates the Prada, Miu Miu, Car Shoe and Church’s brands, closed fiscal 2008 with net debts of 537.4 million euros, or $784.6 million. Dollar figures were converted at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.

Kress’ departure from Bulgari in late September was followed by a restructuring for Bulgari’s U.S. executive team. Veronica McMahon Trenk was appointed managing director of Bulgari in the U.S. and took on Kress’ responsibilities in addition to running the firm’s fragrance and skin care division in the U.S.

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