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PARIS — François-Henri Pinault moved several steps closer to the transformation of his family-controlled group on Tuesday, officially changing its name, spinning off one retail chain and disclosing talks to sell another before the end of the year.
This story first appeared in the June 19, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Those were the main events of PPR’s final annual meeting with that name: 99.7 percent of shareholders approved the change to Kering.
Addressing several hundred shareholders at the Carrousel du Louvre here, Pinault said the new moniker — which sounds like “caring” — conveys the company’s “mission and values” toward its brands, employees, stakeholders and the environment.
Originally an acronym for Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, PPR began edging out of retail in 2006 when it sold the Printemps retail chain, following up with a listing for African trading company CFAO in 2009 and a sale of the Conforama furniture chain to Steinhoff International in 2010.
Kering is now the parent of a fleet of international brands specializing in fashion and accessories across the luxury and sport-lifestyle segments, the divisions built around Gucci and Puma, respectively.
Pinault reiterated that Kering would finalize the sale of its remaining retail holding, French cataloguer La Redoute, by the end of the year, and said it is in talks with industrial players and investment funds.
As for the books, music and electronics retailer Fnac, Pinault said his family holding, Artemis, would retain a 39 percent stake for a minimum of three years, accompanying the firm as its shareholder of reference as Fnac implements a multipronged turnaround plan.
Shareholders receive one Fnac share for every eight PPR shares they hold.
Some shareholders grumbled about the fact that since shares are distributed as dividends, they would be taxed accordingly, and that if they sell Fnac shares once they start trading on the Paris Bourse on Thursday, they could face capital gains taxes on top.
Pinault reminded the audience that he is a large shareholder, and advised holding on to Fnac shares and “benefit from the value creation” of its turnaround efforts, which include new travel and small-city formats.
Shareholders voted 99.7 percent in favor of the spin-off scheme.
With 170 locations, Fnac bills itself as France’s leading seller of books, CDs, electronics and concert tickets.
Challenges for Kering include the slowdown in demand for luxury and the need to jump-start growth at Puma under new chief executive officer Björn Gulden, who starts July 1. A 47-year-old native of Norway and a former professional soccer player, he was most recently ceo of the Danish high-street jeweler Pandora.
Pinault asserted that the sport-lifestyle division offers “considerable potential,” flashing video clips of surfers, snowboarders, golfers and sprinters, including Jamaican Olympic champion Usain Bolt.
Pinault also voiced confidence in China, which now represents the group’s biggest market, since the “economic center of gravity in the world continues to shift towards Asia.”
The audience chuckled when one shareholder suggested the company take a page from luxury rival LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which welcomed more than 120,000 members of the public for the second edition of Les Journées Particulières over the weekend, and open the doors to the workshops of Kering companies such as Boucheron and Balenciaga.
“You can call it Les Journées Choettes,” the shareholder said, using a French word that means “owl,” Kering’s new logo, but is also a colloquial expression for “cool” or “fun.”
Separately, when asked about a Reuters report that the group is eyeing an investment in Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille, a Kering spokesman said the group does not comment on rumors.