By and  on March 7, 2005

MILAN — Isabelle Guichot will take over as chief executive officer of Sergio Rossi at the end of the month, replacing Claudio Paulich, Gucci Group announced Friday.

Guichot, Gucci’s director of business development, will maintain her current duties at the Italian luxury group. Paulich, who could not be reached for comment, is leaving “to pursue his personal activities,” according to a statement from Gucci.

“I am very pleased that Isabelle has accepted this position and I am sure that her extensive experience in brand development and international luxury retailing will be instrumental in driving profitable growth at Sergio Rossi over the next few years,” Robert  Polet, the Gucci Group’s president and ceo, said in the statement. “I would like to thank Claudio for his contribution to the brand.’’

Guichot, who joined Gucci this year from Richemont SA, said she was “delighted,” as the brand is “acknowledged worldwide for the excellent quality and design of its glamorous, made-in-Italy products.” She praised the “highly talented and motivated team.”

That team has recently been augmented by the addition of designers Edmundo Castillo and Rodolfo Del Chiaro, in charge of footwear and handbags, respectively, under the creative direction of Sergio Rossi.

The announcement about Guichot confirmed a WWD report.

Paulich said in a recent interview that he had strived to create a collection of handbags that “would have a life of its own,” and was not necessarily connected to the footwear for which the brand is best known. For this reason, Paulich said the company was remodeling the boutiques to fit special displays dedicated to bags and small leather goods, such as the Paris boutique and its first store in Tokyo. 

Sources said Paulich was initially viewed as the person who would help turn around the firm after Massimo Braglia left as ceo in spring 2003. Braglia had not succeeded in growing the firm as expected and did not get along with Rossi, the sources said.

A person close to the company said there is still some uneasiness at San Mauro Pascoli, in central Italy, where the company is based. Gucci parent company PPR does not disclose financial results for Sergio Rossi. But according to the latest report in September 2004, Sergio Rossi, Boucheron, Bédat & Co., Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga collectively reduced their operating losses by 2.6 million euros, or $3.3 million, over the second quarter. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange rates.There had been speculation that Gianvito Rossi was considering leaving the company his father founded, but he will stay on to see where the restructuring will lead.

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