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PPR chief expands on plans for sales and acquisitions

PPR chief executive François Pinault has revealed that he plans to sell the retail arms of the French group “the sooner, the better” but said he hadn’t created a deadline for the planned divestments.

News broke on Monday that PPR, which owns the Gucci Group and Puma, is looking to sell its retail businesses, which include Redcats, the mail order firm that owns the La Redoute catalogue, as well as book and music retailer Fnac and furniture chain Conforma.

Pinault told the Wall Street Journal yesterday: “We have a major weakness - retail. It is a business that cannot develop quickly abroad.” He added that this was because it takes consumers a long time to accept an unfamiliar name.

In the interview, Pinault added that with global stock markets stabilising, PPR is reviving its strategy to focus on brands over retail - a strategy he began with the sale of the Printemps department store group in 2006.

He said a 12-person team within PPR had drawn up a list of 20 possible buyers for the three remaining retail businesses and another list of 12 luxury and lifestyle brands that PPR would be interested in acquiring. Analysts speculated earlier this week that brands on PPR’s radar could include Tommy Hilfiger, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ralph Lauren, Levi Strauss & Co and Lacoste.

Pinault added that PPR would look to grow its mass-market lifestyle arm and would consider buying another brand geared towards outdoor activities and street sports. He also confirmed that Puma chief executive Jochen Zeitz, would be the right choice to run PPR’s new mass-market division.

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