Giacomo Santucci.

MILAN — Giacomo Santucci has been named president of Camera Buyer Italia, the Italian association of buyers representing more than 100 fashion retailers. The former Gucci and Prada executive will succeed Francesco Tombolini, who resigned from the role on Thursday.

“I can only thank my companions in this journey and all associates,” Tombolini said in a statement. “It’s been 18 months of great work aimed at laying the base for a new method and storytelling for this important association,” added the executive, who was appointed in 2018.

“To face this new challenge given by the coronavirus, a united front is needed, a front able to have the strength to dialogue with all our partners, a united and brave front as it has been until now, but even more, if possible. I like to think not to the words ‘tension’ or ‘chaos’ but to the words ‘project’ and ‘update.’ The CBI [Camera Buyer Italia] changes quickly, just like the market has been changing in terms of rules and consumers. I’m sure that the person who will take on this prestigious role will manage to be way better than me.”

Tombolini was the first manager called to cover the role of CBI president instead of a member of the association. Santucci will follow the path, as he is an industry veteran who, most recently, was appointed as chairman of the board by Italian accessories and leather goods company Il Bisonte.

Born in Italy’s Abruzzo region in 1956, Santucci has a reputation in the industry for developing luxury brands in new markets. He helped build the cosmetics and eyewear businesses at Prada, reorganizing operations in Asia and working closely with acquired brands like Helmut Lang, before he joined Gucci in 2001, reporting to former president and chief executive officer Domenico De Sole, until 2004. After that, stints included executive roles at Malo and Dolce & Gabbana. Santucci was formerly a senior manager at McKinsey & Co. in Milan and Paris, and for the last 10 years he consulted with several fashion companies collaborating with investment funds. He also served on the boards of Roberto Cavalli and Gianvito Rossi Japan, and has teached at the LUISS Business School in Rome.

Over the past month, Tombolini has been vocal in supporting and urging measures to help retailers affected by the COVID-19 emergency and consequent closure of nonessential businesses.

Interviewed by WWD at the early stages of the virus outbreak in Italy, he described the critical moment as the “perfect storm for the retail sector with Italy and China being two of the most affected countries” and hoped “that retailers will have the chance to be supported in terms of payments,” forecasting wholesalers’ lack of liquidity because of the decline in sales.

He also highlighted that online platform’s reaction to the situation might ignite a price wars and defended wholesale which “is currently considered the weak ring of the chain, but actually everything originates from that: new brands, research…we all need to protect it.”

As reported, he predicted that the impact of the virus outbreak across the whole world will be “100 times stronger than that of 9/11″ and that “we are currently bringing old solutions to solve new problems.” He additionally urged that the industry needs a sort of Yalta conference, where “brands, retailers and makers write a new protocol for a new consumer. We all have to understand that the effect of this situation will be viral and will force the industry to reconsider marketing budgets, mark-ups and wholesale strategies.”

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