* Group struggling with falling sales, profitability
* CEO left in March after less than two years in the job
* Chairman says pressing ahead with revamp plan (Recasts after statements)
By Giulia Segreti
FLORENCE, Italy, April 20 (Reuters) - Italy’s Salvatore Ferragamo appointed Gucci executive Micaela Le Divelec as general manager on Friday, postponing selection of a new chief executive.
The Florence-based shoemaker parted ways with CEO Eraldo Poletto in March, barely more than a year after the newly named chief unveiled an ambitious plan to boost sales through a product revamp only to issue a profit warning in December.
Family-owned Ferragamo is battling falling sales and profitability as its brand, famous for the shoes worn by Hollywood stars such as Audrey Hepburn, resonates little with young shoppers who account for a growing share of global luxury spending.
The company said in a statement that the board had granted full powers to Chairman Ferruccio Ferragamo, who had taken over the running of the group after Poletto’s exit.
Ferruccio’s son James was made vice-chairman and one of three “strategic managers”, alongside Le Divelec and finance chief Ugo Giorcelli.
Le Divelec spent the past two decades at Gucci, where she was chief consumer officer. Another Florentine brand, Gucci has been relaunched in recent years by owner Kering and has once again become a key contributor to the French luxury goods group’s sales.
Sources had told Reuters this week that the company wanted to set up an executive committee while it took more time to look for a CEO.
Speaking to reporters after Friday’s annual shareholder meeting, the chairman ruled out the possibility of a family member becoming CEO.
“The new CEO must love and understand Ferragamo and I hope will come from within the company,” he said.
The Ferragamo family owns nearly 70 percent of the group.
Ferruccio Ferragamo has said he intends to hold the reins for as short a period as possible but that the group would take all the time needed to find the right CEO.
The company has not given reasons for the sudden exit of Poletto but Ferruccio Ferragamo said on Friday that there had been “divergences on certain points”.
He added that the group was pressing ahead with the plan presented in February last year “without changes or twists”.
“I am satisfied,” he said but acknowledged that the company still needs to bolster its online business and compete better in a segment that has become one of the luxury sector’s main growth drivers. (Additional reporting by Valentina Za in Milan Editing by Catherine Evans and David Goodman)