Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — Patrizio di Marco is indeed headed to Gucci Group, to work in a senior capacity in its recently acquired Bottega Veneta division.
While di Marco’s title has not yet been determined, Domenico De Sole, chief executive officer of Gucci Group, said on Wednesday that he is among a number of key hires joining the luxury goods conglomerate as part of its goal to strengthen the executive ranks since implementing a multibranding strategy. De Sole, speaking at a Banc of America Securities consumer conference, also hinted that two additional high-level hires are in the works, involving an accessories designer and a production pro from Prada Group in the next month.
He did not name the new hires and a Gucci spokesman could not provide further details.
Di Marco, who left his most recent position as head of Celine’s U.S. operations in March, was replaced at Celine last week by Mario Grauso, who was executive vice president of Vera Wang. Di Marco will start at Bottega Veneta this month, reporting to Vittorio Moltedo, chief executive officer.
“Since we made the decision to become a multibranded company, the thing that has kept me up at night for the last year has been thinking about strengthening management,” De Sole said, adding that building Gucci Group’s executive ranks remains a key initiative for the company.
In the past year, Gucci has brought on board a number of players from competing luxury houses, including Prada’s former commercial director, Giacomo Santucci, as president and managing director of the Gucci Division; Massimo Macchi from Bulgari Parfums as vice president of Gucci Group; Thierry Andretta, formerly acquisitions director at Louis Vuitton Fashion Group, as vice president of Gucci Group, and Stefano Pilati, who had worked on Prada’s Miu Miu collections, as women’s design director for Yves Saint Laurent.
During his presentation, De Sole also outlined several previously announced initiatives for Gucci Group, including the relaunch of Yves Saint Laurent watches in 2002 and a new fragrance for the brand this fall, as well as a fragrance for Alexander McQueen at the end of 2002.
Gucci will also open 16 new stores worldwide, including a 20,000-square-foot Milan flagship, and, having recently acquired its Spanish retail franchise, will refurbish stores in Barcelona, Bilbao and Madrid. YSL, meanwhile, will expand its company-owned store network to between 50 and 60 locations by 2002, he said.
De Sole declined to comment on the status of any acquisition talks with Stella McCartney or Nicolas Ghesquiere.