MILAN (Reuters) - Italian fashion house Versace named the former head of British brand Alexander McQueen as its new chief executive, in an unexpected move ahead of a planned stock market listing against a backdrop of slowing luxury industry growth.
Jonathan Akeroyd will take over from Gian Giacomo Ferraris who has led family-owned Versace since 2009 and is credited with relaunching the group after it averted bankruptcy in 2004.
The brand famous for its Medusa head logo is seeking a stock market listing after nited States private equity firm Blackstone bought a 20 per cent stake in 2014 to help to fund expansion abroad.
Versace gave no reason for the departure of Ferraris, which comes only two months after the company said creative director Anthony Vaccarello would step down.
Vice president and artistic director Donatella Versace said in a note Akeroyd had been chosen for his proven experience in leading global brands, enhancing them and guiding them towards a strategic development.
Akeroyd had been in the top job at McQueen, part of French conglomerate Kering, since September 2004.
"This is really a surprise. I was expecting Ferraris to take Versace to the stock market, after reviving it successfully in the past few years," Exane BNP Paribas analyst Luca Solca said.
Akeroyd, a former merchandising director at London department store Harrods, committed to preserving the brand's creative identity following the death of Alexander McQueen in 2010.