Gucci has posted positive results for the first half of 2015, following a warm reaction by consumers to changes at the label. Revenue was up almost 12 per cent, Gucci owner Kering reported, with sales in European Gucci stores up more than 13 per cent and 19 per cent in directly-operated stores in Japan.
“Kering delivered a sound performance in the first half of 2015, buoyed by strong sales growth in the second quarter in a volatile economic and currency environment,” François-Henri Pinault, Kering chairman and CEO, said at yesterday’s results announcement. “We are particularly satisfied with the progress at Gucci and the positive reception given to the brand’s new creative direction. As we enter the second half of the year, I am fully confident in the group’s ability to combine strict management discipline with organic growth at each of our brands.”
Pleased though Kering doubtless is about Gucci’s “change in management and creative responsibility” – which the conglomerate listed as a highlight for 2015 – how much of an impact the new guard has had on sales is still intangible. Following the departure of creative director Frida Giannini and CEO Patrizio di Marco in January this year, former Gucci accessories designer turned creative director Alessandro Michele, and Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s new president and CEO, took their positions and immediately made their presence felt.
Michele’s first collection – a menswear offering showcased just days before he was appointed at the helm – was quickly followed by a womenswear collection just a month after he was appointed, but the first collection fully created under his direction, for pre-spring/summer 2016, won’t arrive in stores until late 2015.
Much like the “suede-skirt effect” enjoyed by Marks & Spencer earlier this year – when clothing sales at the retailer rose thanks to a hero piece worn by Alexa Chung, which in fact wasn’t in stores yet – Michele’s new vision could be attracting young consumers back into stores despite the stock still being in transistion. A similar lift was experienced by Dior following John Galliano’s departure in 2011, so it could also be the confirmation of the old adage that “all press is good press”, meaning that the increase in buzz surrounding the brand just puts it on shoppers’ radars again. But that would be to underestimate the appeal of the new offering.
Michele’s arrival has brought a freshness to Gucci again – eschewing as he has the old Italian glamour of the label for a new, retro youthfulness – and if the latest figures are anything to go by, Gucci could follow Saint Laurent, which yesterday, yet again, posted eye-watering figures. The company – which, like Gucci, has turned away from its old-school sexy image towards a more undone and youthful aesthetic – enjoyed first-half revenue growth of 38 per cent, with sales in directly operated stores also up more than 25 per cent.