HARRODS EXIT: William Najdecki, Harrods’ group finance director, has become the latest executive to jump ship over the past year. The company said the resignation was by “mutual consent” and that Najdecki, who had been with Harrods since 1998, would return to the U.S. No successor has been named. Najdecki joins about 10 executives who have left the firm over the past 18 months, including John Whitacre, who left Harrods as managing director last December, and Adelle Kelley, who left as head of women’s apparel in February. A Harrods spokesman said the company has 5,000 employees, and this happens to be “one of those moments” when turnover is prevalent. Meanwhile, Mohammed Al-Fayed, Harrods’ chairman and owner, recently said that Harrods would post flat sales and operating profits for the fiscal year that ended in January 2002. Operating profits will be about $45 million, and sales will be $912 million. Fayed, however, said he expected a rebound in sales and profits this year and that taking Harrods public in the U.S. is still a “possibility.”
ONE MORE MONTH: Bankrupt Warnaco Group last week received Manhattan bankruptcy court approval to extend its exclusive right to file a plan of reorganization for another month until Aug. 30. Warnaco was supposed to have filed its plan by July 31. The company has said in recent weeks that it expects to exit bankruptcy proceedings as a stand-alone operation. Separately, the court said that all documents produced in the matter of the $25.1 million severance claim by former Warnaco chief executive Linda Wachner are to be considered confidential and are not to be disclosed publicly.
GUCCI BUYBACK: Gucci Group has authorized the buyback of 3.5 million shares of its stock to be used for employee stock options. The company will buy the shares at market prices over an unspecified period of time. Based on Tuesday’s closing share price of $88 in New York Stock Exchange trading, Gucci would spend $308 million if it were to purchase the full complement of 3.5 million shares. “We believe that a buyback of Gucci shares at current valuation levels represents an excellent investment for the company,” chief executive officer Domenico De Sole said in a statement. The repurchased shares, which will be held by the company’s treasury until employees exercise their stock options, will not be subject to Dutch withholding tax. Gucci said it is using available cash for the transaction.