By  on January 6, 2005

PARIS — Sidney Toledano, chief executive officer of Christian Dior, is expected to also become acting president of John Galliano in the wake of the exit of Valerie Hermann, according to market sources.

On Wednesday, Gucci Group named Hermann, who was also head of women’s ready-to-wear at Dior, as the new ceo of its Yves Saint Laurent fashion division, confirming a report in these columns.

Toledano declined to comment on Wednesday, but it is understood there are no immediate plans to name a successor for Hermann at Dior.

At YSL, Hermann will succeed Mark Lee, who became president and managing editor of the Gucci brand last October. James McArthur, Gucci Group’s executive vice president and director of strategy and acquisitions, will continue as interim YSL ceo until Hermann starts some time in the second quarter.

“She has an outstanding reputation in the industry,” Gucci Group ceo Robert Polet told WWD. “She brings a lot of experience, and with a brand [Dior] that has gone through quite a turnaround.”

Polet praised Hermann’s leadership qualities, merchandising prowess and her abilities in managing design talent. He noted that she already has met YSL’s creative director, Stefano Pilati.

Asked if Hermann would pursue a new strategy for YSL, Polet responded: “I think Mark [Lee] has laid the foundation together with Stefano [Pilati]. It’s on those foundations which Valerie will build, putting her own touch on it, of course.”

Polet also suggested that Hermann, as one of the few female ceo’s in the luxury business, would bring a “fresh perspective on certain things.”

Analysts applauded the appointment. “The arrival of a manager with extensive experience in the luxury goods industry, notably at a brand [Christian Dior] which has undergone a successful turnaround, is good news for the Gucci Group,” HSBC analyst Antoine Belge wrote in a research note Wednesday. “This should partially alleviate investors' worries regarding the group’s management structure after several top management departures in the second half of 2004.”

Hermann could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but it is believed she already has ceased reporting for work at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.And, while the switch of rival luxury camps caught many in the industry by surprise, Hermann, in fact, has some family ties to Gucci parent Pinault-Printemps-Redoute.

She was a classmate of François-Henri Pinault, whose family holding Artemis controls PPR, at the elite French business school Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales. Also, Hermann’s husband, Jean-Christophe, has worked as a senior executive for PPR’s Fnac book, music and electronics chain.

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