In response to growing market speculation that Gian Giacomo Ferraris was headed to Burberry, the former Versace chief executive officer told WWD: “I know Christopher [Bailey] and I think very highly of him, but I haven’t had any contact with Burberry.”
Burberry also denied the rumors, sparked by Ferraris’ abrupt exit from Versace revealed earlier this week. He was succeeded by Jonathan Akeroyd, former ceo of Alexander McQueen. Ferraris’ experience in operations and having worked at Gucci at the same time as Bailey may also have triggered the speculation he was set to lend a helping hand to Burberry’s chief creative and ceo as he embarks on a major new strategy that involves simplifying the group’s structure and cost cutting.
As reported, several financial analysts and investors have been skeptical about Bailey’s ability to lead the company on both the creative and business fronts. During his presentation earlier this month to discuss last year’s financial results, Bailey declined to comment on recent press reports that he’s set to make a senior appointment, someone to help him with his day-to-day job.
While Burberry’s situation is not as troubled as Versace’s was when Ferraris joined the Milan-based firm in 2009, he could be the go-to man, as he has proven successful in turning Versace around. A former Jil Sander and Gucci executive, he launched an extensive reorganization plan aimed at returning Versace to profitability in 2011. He set in motion a cut of 25 percent of its workforce, or around 350 jobs. He sought to rationalize costs by streamlining such noncore operations as the logistics department to create a more flexible structure. In 2010, Versace swung back to profit ahead of the 2011 date that had been forecast, and started setting its expansion.
At Gucci, Ferraris was instrumental in managing the group’s women’s ready-to-wear manufacturing arm when the company took production in-house. Before his Gucci post and before returning to Jil Sander as ceo in 2004, Ferraris had worked at the German firm in Hamburg as industrial director and was responsible for the company’s entire production process.
Bailey worked on Tom Ford’s team at Gucci before joining Burberry and was based in Milan as senior designer of Gucci’s women’s wear from 1996 to 2001. Ferraris’ stint at Gucci spanned from 1999 to 2004.