By  on September 17, 2013

PARIS — Paris-based Kering has a stronger Italian accent than one might think.

At the end of last year, the French group’s head offices here on the Avenue Hoche housed about 160 employees of 17 nationalities — a dramatically more diverse lot than back in 2008, when there was only one non-French executive.

And Italian, not French, is “by far” the dominant nationality across the group, according to François-Henri Pinault, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer.

During Milan Fashion Week, which kicks off on Wednesday, Kering will further extend its ties with Italy by unveiling a new internship program with Vogue Italia. The partnership will offer 23 posts in areas such as design, merchandising, visual display, digital and communications, with the magazine and its Web site spearheading the selection process.

In an exclusive interview, Pinault underscored the importance of cultivating talents — from designers to skilled craftspeople — in the countries of origin of its brands, especially in Italy, where Kering’s luxury holdings include Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Brioni, Pomellato and Sergio Rossi.

“One way of keeping Made in Italy is to have very strong talent scouting and recruiting in that country, for people who understand what Italy is all about,” he said. “We are selling a piece of the culture of the country of origin so it’s very important that we keep this, but also reach new customers around the world.”

 

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