MILAN — Squelching persistent speculation of a management change at Gucci, François-Henri Pinault told WWD that Gucci’s longtime chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri would stay in place and lead the brand in the post-Alessandro Michele period.
Speaking on the sidelines of Gucci’s fall 2023 men’s fashion show in Milan last Friday, Kering’s chairman and chief executive officer was emphatic that Bizzarri “has my full trust. He already had.”
“It’s so obvious that Marco is the CEO for this next chapter of Gucci for sure,” he said, smiling broadly as he spoke to WWD. “I need him to build that with me and I’m fully confident that we will succeed on that.”
His remarks should further calm investor concern about further turbulence at Kering’s largest brand and its greatest profit driver.
“This is very good news,” commented Luca Solca, senior research analyst, global luxury goods at Bernstein. “Marco has been able to orchestrate the most brilliant brand turnaround in the history of the luxury goods and fashion history — bold, fast, smooth, effective.”
Solca added that all Bizzarri needs “is new creative ideas to open a new chapter at Gucci. With Marco at the helm energizing and aligning the whole organization in the new direction, Gucci is in good hands.”
The Bizzarri-Michele dream team helped triple the size of Gucci since 2015 to reach sales last year of 9.73 billion euros.
Michele suddenly exited his role as creative director of Gucci last November amid disagreement over the future of the brand, which the designer had energized with gender-fluid, retro-tinged glamour.
After Michele’s appointment in 2015, Gucci posted growth exceeding 35 percent for five consecutive quarters by the first quarter of 2018, prompting Bizzarri to set a 10 billion euro revenue target for the brand in June that year.
But the momentum recently stalled, and it is understood Bizzarri and Pinault had urged Michele to initiate a strong design shift, a quicker pace of collections, and a further elevation of the brand toward a true luxury positioning.
Michele’s successor has yet to be named, and the men’s collection shown Friday was credited to the design studio, which riffed on various brand codes with a soupçon of sailor and rock-star styling.
In a recent research note, Erwan Rambourg, global head of consumer and retail research at HSBC, said Gucci is likely to do better in 2023, with the worst behind it.
HSBC forecasts a 12.5 percent dip in fourth-quarter revenues when the numbers come out on Feb. 15.
“The brand has lost market share following what, in hindsight, was likely a strategic mistake: cutting costs in the spring of 2020 while most peers were doubling down on spending. Separately, we believe the brand’s expression became a bit narrow which made it particularly vulnerable in mainland China, where the group has strengthened management recently,” the HSBC report said. “A renewed merchandising team should also ensure a more commercial approach.…The commitment to spend more in terms of advertising, combined with a stronger team in mainland China as well as in merchandising should help the brand converge towards peers’ sales growth regardless of the fact it will be in a transition period.”