MILAN — John Hooks is leaving his post as deputy chairman and vice president at Giorgio Armani Group.
This story first appeared in the May 12, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After 11 “fantastic” years at the company, for which he holds “a lot of affection,” Hooks said he was leaving for personal reasons and that he was “looking at various options and projects,” but that he had not made a decision.
On Wednesday evening, Armani confirmed it had “reached an accord for the consensual resolution of the work relationship” with Hooks. Armani thanked Hooks for his performance, highlighting the executive’s role as deputy chairman and vice president over the past 18 months and his “focus on the development of strategic activities.”
Hooks joined Armani as corporate commercial and marketing director on April 2, 2000, after leaving his post as Jil Sander AG’s international director of sales in February that year, when the company was owned by Prada Group. His role at Armani was a new one, and Hooks was supposed to report to the then-managing director Pino Brusone, who left in March of that year. Hooks took on some of Brusone’s responsibilities, splitting them with Gianni Gerbotto, then deputy managing director. In September 2009, Armani promoted Hooks from his deputy general manager title to deputy chairman. He also joined the board of directors with responsibility for global strategy and markets and brand development. Hooks maintained his responsibilities for the group’s foreign subsidiaries.
Hooks was instrumental in expanding all of the designer’s brands globally, from the first Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani stores in India in 2008 to the biggest Giorgio Armani store in the world, on Milan’s Via Montenapoleone, and Emporio Armani’s first flagship in Moscow that same year. In 2009, the company opened the Armani Fifth Avenue concept space in New York, followed by several locations in the Middle East and China, and the first Giorgio Armani travel retail boutique at Hong Kong International Airport in May of last year.
An industry source said Hooks was greatly responsible for Armani’s growth in Asia. “He understood Asia before most people did. He was an incredible commercial director, very professional, serious and straightforward, and a pleasure to work with.”
For years, the British-born Hooks worked at the now-defunct Armani licensee, manufacturer Gruppo Finanziario Tessile, or GFT, in the U.S., and developed a deep knowledge of the American market.