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Barneys appoints former Gucci boss Mark Lee as chief executive

US luxury department store Barneys New York has appointed Mark Lee, a former global president and chief executive of the Gucci brand, as chief executive.

Lee, who will take over the role on September 1, replaces Howard Socol, who left in May 2008. The role has been covered by Barneys’ executive committee in the interim. The announcement was made jointly with Barneys majority shareholder Istithmar World, which acquired the store for $825m (£532m) in 2008.

Lee was most recently global president and chief executive of Gucci, a role he held for four years. He joined PPR, the luxury goods giant that owns the Gucci group stable of brands, in 1996 and was senior global merchandising executive for two years prior to being named chief executive of Yves Saint Laurent. He began his career at Saks Fifth Avenue in 1984 and has also held roles at Giorgio Armani and Jil Sander.

Andy Watson, chairman of Barneys and acting chief executive of Istithmar World, said Lee’s appointment marked the start of a new era for the luxury retailer. “We believe that Barneys is a great business that is well positioned to make the most of market opportunities.”

It is has been reported that Istithmar issued a statement in September 2009 to counter rumours about the financial health of the company.

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