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Four years ago, Gucci was a luxury-goods house beset not only by financial bickering and mounting losses-and lackluster products. Today, thanks to a boost in marketing expenditures, it's made gains in consumer cachet and sales.

In 1994, Domenico De Sole, president-CEO of Gucci Group, headed from New York to Florence to oversee a massive reorganization following the company's acquisition by Investcorp. A native of Rome and lawyer by profession, Mr. De Sole, 51, had presided over Gucci America since 1984.

He quickly set out to restore the brand image, reorganize distribution and invest heavily in promotion and merchandising. Marketing and communication were centralized in Florence.

As a result, worldwide marketing expenditures, which cover everything from advertising and PR to store windows, grew from $6 million in 1993 to nearly $38 million in 1995.

In the U.S., Gucci's in-house ads appear in high-profile women's and men's monthly magazines. These ads tout products from Tom Ford, Gucci's hot creative director and designer.

Mr. Ford injected color and cutting-edge style into new looks as well as Gucci classics, like suede loafers now sold in an array of brilliant colors.

These efforts not only earned awards from the fashion industry-including Best New Designer at the VH-1 fashion awards last December-they helped boost Gucci sales 89.7% last year to $500 million. Next on the docket: boosting sales in Europe.

Amy B. Barone

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