By  on June 5, 2009

MILAN — Gianni Versace SpA is to part company with chief executive officer Giancarlo Di Risio by mutual consent — and it’s understood the front-runner to succeed him is Jil Sander AG ceo Gian Giacomo Ferraris.

Following a board meeting Friday, Versace said in a statement, “The company thanked Mr. Di Risio for the work he has done during his tenure as ceo and Mr. Di Risio expressed his gratitude to the board of directors, to the shareholders and to all the employees of the Versace group for their support and collaboration over the last five years.” His departure confirms a May 21 report in WWD.

Di Risio, who joined the Italian fashion house in 2004, will stay on temporarily “to guarantee a smooth transitional period,” Versace added.

Ferraris could not be reached for comment Friday, but sources said he is in talks with Versace about the ceo post. He is said to have been unhappy at Jil Sander since Onward Holdings Co. Ltd. bought the fashion house last September.

Versace called in Bain & Co. after losing confidence in Di Risio and approved a new three-year plan by the consultancy at the end of May.

Revenues fell 13.4 percent in the first quarter, although business improved in April and May. Last year, net profits at Versace fell 30.7 percent to 9 million euros, or $13.2 million, on revenues that rose 8.3 percent to 336.3 million euros, or $494.3 million. Dollar figures were converted at average exchange for the periods to which they refer. The company has not disclosed its net indebtedness, although Di Risio told WWD in February it was less than 20 percent of turnover.

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