By  on July 29, 2005

MILAN — Mark Lee, Gucci's new chief executive officer, has an aggressive agenda that includes boosting the brand's sales as well as redesigning retail stores and expanding in emerging markets.

In his first interview since taking charge of Gucci in November, Lee mapped out his strategy to double sales in seven years to more than $4 billion, a goal set by Robert Polet, president and ceo of parent Gucci Group, after the tumultuous departure of creative director Tom Ford and ceo Domenico De Sole.

"Gucci's transition is behind, the dust has settled," Lee said in the minimalist gray, black and white offices of the brand's headquarters here. "We're moving very fast because we have so many things going on."

Seeking to grow the business in what he described as "a luxurious way," Lee said Gucci also would focus on jewelry, eyewear and fragrances, increasing the ready-to-wear assortment and launching advertising campaigns for each of the product lineups.

The plans have "thrown people off because it sounds like a staggering number," Lee said. "In reality, it means a 10 percent annual growth. The first quarter of this year we grew 19 percent, which is double the pace we need and testifies to the brand's strength."

Lee, a 42-year-old native of San Francisco who started his career as an assistant buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue, became president and managing director of the brand in November. He moved from his spot as ceo of Gucci Group's Yves Saint Laurent fashion house after the ouster of Giacomo Santucci. Lee was named ceo of the Gucci brand this month. He has overseen the promotion of Frida Giannini to creative director for women's rtw and men's and women's accessories, which meant the departure of Alessandra Facchinetti two weeks after her second runway show in the post-Ford era.

Lee said that in terms of retail expansion, Gucci is late compared with its rivals in tackling markets such as China, India, South America and Eastern Europe.

At least 10 new stores are to open in China in three years to complement the existing seven, along with new units in New Delhi, Bombay and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, by yearend. Mexico City is in the pipeline for February 2006 while a space in Macau, the Las Vegas-style gambling megacenter in eastern Asia, is to open in 2007.

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