Gucci, an Italian emblem of heritage and luxury, is set to undergo a profound transformation come September. Despite Kering chief François Pinault’s initial confidence in CEO Marco Bizzarri’s tenure, stating no uncertain terms: “It’s so obvious that Marco is the CEO for this next chapter of Gucci for sure,” Mr Pinault quipped to WWD, it was not to be.
The departure of creative director Alessandro Michele late last year marked a turning point for Gucci. Disagreements on the brand’s direction, coupled with sales plateauing after the pandemic, and declining demand for its distinctive magpie styling necessitated a fresh approach. While the brand experienced remarkable growth since 2015, with profits quadrupling, sustaining such a trajectory became untenable.
Kering, in this monumental reshuffle, not only bids farewell to Mr. Bizzarri but also instigated new management across the luxury group, with a particular focus on its star brand, Gucci. The incoming leadership faces the daunting task of reviving the brand’s fiscal standing after a year of interim collections and uncertainty surrounding its stylistic identity. As calls for more understated products gain traction, Gucci embarks on resetting its codes for the second time within the Instagram era.
While the recent changes may not immediately deter current luxury consumers from purchasing Gucci’s products, the brand’s turnaround efforts will eventually determine its fate. The company closed 2022 with a revenue of 10.5 billion euros, marking a meagre 8 percent increase from the previous year. In comparison, Saint Laurent, despite experiencing a soaring 31 percent rise in sales, still lags behind Gucci with an annual turnover of 3.3 billion euros in 2022. It will take Saint Laurent at least 5 years to catch up in the revenue stakes.
Gucci is Kering’s billion-dollar baby, and its success is imperative, prompting the bold and necessary management shakeup orchestrated by the Group. The brand now stands at the crossroads of opportunity and challenge, as it embarks on this pivotal chapter in its storied history.