By  on March 9, 2005

MILAN — Dolce & Gabbana confirmed Tuesday that former Gucci Group executive Giacomo Santucci is joining the company, but not as chief executive officer, as some in the industry had expected.Santucci starts work Monday as the company’s commercial, licenses and retail director, Dolce & Gabbana said in a statement. Santucci will report to Alfonso Dolce, board member and Domenico Dolce’s brother, and Cristiana Ruella, general affairs director, both top-tier executives at the company.“We will follow the proper positioning and development of the different brands of the group and the merchandising categories they represent,” the company said in the statement, adding that Santucci will coordinate all commercial functions, including wholesale, retail and licensing.In a phone interview, Ruella said Santucci’s task will be to “harmonize the market presence of the two brands, Dolce & Gabbana and D&G, across the board.”Santucci did not return calls seeking comment.Ruella also said Santucci will help select a replacement for outgoing Dolce & Gabbana USA president Gabriella Forte since he will coordinate business in that market as part of his responsibilities. Ruella said the company hopes to find a new president in America within a few months.She downplayed the possibility that Santucci could take over Forte’s position, saying such a scenario is “not expected.” Ruella specified that Forte’s role, like Santucci’s, reports to Alfonso Dolce and herself.As reported last week, industry veteran Forte chose not to renew her contract with Dolce & Gabbana, marking a significant power shift at the Italian fashion house. She is staying at the company “as long as necessary” to guarantee an effective handover.It looks like Santucci will have plenty of work on the licensing front. Last year, Dolce & Gabbana ended its eyewear license with Marcolin and inked a deal with the much larger Luxottica. The company also has started to evaluate whether to renew its licensing pact with IT Holding, which produces the diffusion line D&G. The license expires at the end of 2006. Ruella said it would be “premature” to say what the company plans to do at this stage.Ruella said several companies, including Procter & Gamble, are courting Dolce & Gabbana in a bid to expand the house’s beauty business. She said the company will likely decide by the end of the year whether to stay with current partner EuroItalia or switch to another licensee.Last year, Gucci Group famously “terminated” Giacomo Santucci as Gucci brand ceo in a whirlwind of management changes under new group ceo Robert Polet and majority shareholder PPR. Santucci joined Gucci in January 2001 and the industry considered him one of several potential candidates whom PPR could promote to the group ceo slot to replace the outgoing Domenico De Sole. Instead, Santucci stayed on as Gucci brand ceo until relations with Polet and PPR soured late last year. Prior to joining Gucci, Santucci spent eight years at Prada, helping to develop the company’s cosmetics and eyewear businesses, reorganizing operations in Asia and working closely with acquired brands like Helmut Lang.

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