PARIS — Gucci is losing another senior executive — worldwide merchandising director Tom Mendenhall.

Sources said Mendenhall submitted his resignation last week. Mendenhall was considered a key deputy of Giacomo Santucci, the president and chief executive of Gucci, whose employment was terminated last week amid accusations of disloyalty and exorbitant salary demands.

But a source close to the situation characterized Mendenhall’s decision as unrelated to Santucci’s departure. It is believed Mendenhall is leaving to accept a senior position at specialty chain Abercrombie & Fitch though details could not be learned at press time.

Neither Mendenhall nor Gucci Group officials could be reached for comment.

“He’s a superb merchant, and it’s a real coup for Abercrombie,” said one source.

As reported, Gucci Group ceo Robert Polet, who joined the fashion conglomerate last July from Unilever’s frozen food division, has assumed Santucci’s duties, although not necessarily permanently.

Another source said Mendenhall had been among top internal candidates to succeed Santucci as chief executive given that he was among the brand’s top decision and image makers.

Mendenhall joined Gucci as worldwide image and sales director in 1996, then reporting to designer Tom Ford and ceo Domenico De Sole, the two men who engineered Gucci’s rejuvenation.

Before that, Mendenhall had a 12-year career at now-defunct New York retailer Charivari, rising to vice president and general merchandise manager.

This story first appeared in the October 25, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.