Case | HBS Case Collection | April 2009 (Revised January 2011)

Gucci Group: Freedom within the Framework

by Francisco de Asis Martinez-Jerez, Elena Corsi and Vincent Marie Dessain

Abstract

Gucci Group's CEO had to decide if his decentralized management style was the most effective philosophy in an economic downturn. The sharing of customer information across units and its use in the creative process are key initiatives analyzed in the case. CEO Robert Polet joined the high-end fashion Gucci Group in 2004, after 26 years at one of the largest consumer goods companies. Since his arrival, the Group had grown both in revenues and profitability. Part of his secret was his decentralized and empowering management style. In 2008, in the midst of the economic downturn following the credit crunch crisis, Polet learned that after four years of growth the Gucci brand—the Group's largest business—would report a slowdown for the year's first semester. He knew that according to his management philosophy he should leave the primary decisions for the Gucci brand to Gucci's CEO. Yet, given the urgency of the situation, Polet wondered if it would be more effective to become directly involved in the brand's decision-making process. To anchor the discussion on Polet's management style, the case discusses how customer information is used in the creative process and whether it would be beneficial for the group to share customer information across stores, regions, and brands.

Keywords: Customer Relationship Management; Decision Choices and Conditions; Globalized Firms and Management; Knowledge Sharing; Leadership; Management Style; Management Systems; Brands and Branding; Apparel and Accessories Industry;

Citation:

Martinez-Jerez, Francisco de Asis, Elena Corsi, and Vincent Marie Dessain. "Gucci Group: Freedom within the Framework." Harvard Business School Case 109-079, April 2009. (Revised January 2011.)