MILAN — Executives from the era of Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole at Gucci Group continue to surface elsewhere.
The latest to exit is Gian Giacomo Ferraris, who left his post as the group’s director of worldwide apparel operations to join Jil Sander AG as chief executive officer, effective June 7. Ferraris, a manufacturing veteran of the Sander company, will take over responsibilities there from Patrizio Bertelli, who continues as chief of Sander’s parent, Prada Group.
In other defections, Paolo Piantella, Gucci’s corporate communications manager, will leave next month to become Bulgari’s corporate financial press office director; veteran Brian Blake was recently named Burberry’s worldwide president and chief operating officer and De Sole disciple Robert Singer joined Abercrombie & Fitch as president and chief operating officer. Other departing executives include Toshiaki Tashiro, president of Gucci Japan, and communications directors Lisa Schiek and Tomaso Galli. And, as reported, De Sole, former Gucci ceo, joined the board of Gap Inc. this week.
The appointment of Ferraris, together with the departure from Jil Sander of Roberto Massardi, previously general manager, is the first executive shake-up at the Hamburg-based company since the return of Sander a year ago. The appointment points to Sander’s more hands-on approach and increasing control over the label. A year ago, industry observers wondered how Bertelli and Sander would resolve their different creative and management styles and what direction the label would take. Sander stepped down in 2000 as chairwoman and chief designer of the house she built just months after selling it to Prada.
The Italian Ferraris, 46, worked at Sander in Hamburg before his Gucci post. At Gucci, he was instrumental in managing the group’s women’s ready-to-wear manufacturing arm when the company took production in-house. At Sander, he worked as industrial director and was responsible for the company’s entire production process. “Ferraris is an historical Jil Sander veteran who set up the original manufacturing structure for the designer,” said an industry source familiar with Sander’s operation. “His appointment shows how Sander now controls the daily operations and how Bertelli has reduced his duties within the company.”
In a statement, Bertelli said Ferraris’ appointment is a “significant step in reinforcing the management team currently in place.” A Jil Sander spokeswoman said Ferraris is an “expert who will be exclusively focused on the Jil Sander brand.”
The spokeswoman confirmed Roberto Massardi has left his post. A longtime Prada executive, Massardi is still part of the group, as its head of business development. According to industry sources, the relationship between Massardi and Sander had become strained.
In 2003, Jil Sander posted a loss of $34.6 million on sales of $153.4 million. Bernhard Wirmer, Sander’s chief financial officer, said earlier this year that 2004 is “off to a good start, thanks to Mrs. Sander’s return as creative director.” He added that her return was “especially important” for the company’s “overall strategy, image and brand equity.”
Armando Branchini, vice president of InterCorporate, a Milan-based luxury goods analyst, said: “Bertelli and Sander have reached an agreement and are getting along, with diplomacy, mutually understanding that this will also help improve the brand’s business. In any case, Prada requires attention. Prada is one of the most powerful, high-end brands that still has a lot of potential, so it’s important for Bertelli to focus on it, and this is valid just as much for Ferraris with Jil Sander.”