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Changes Atop PPR Focus on High End

PARIS — French distribution conglomerate Pinault-Printemps-Redoute on Friday shuffled its top management as part of its ongoing strategy to center operations around its higher-margin retail and luxury activities.<br><br>Denis Olivennes, who...

PARIS — French distribution conglomerate Pinault-Printemps-Redoute on Friday shuffled its top management as part of its ongoing strategy to center operations around its higher-margin retail and luxury activities.

Denis Olivennes, who joined PPR last September as managing director, second in command to chairman Serge Weinberg, was appointed president of PPR’s home division, including the Fnac music and book chain, and the Conforama furniture retailer.

Meanwhile, Thierry Falque-Pierrotin, president of PPR’s Redcat’s mail-order division, was named president of PPR’s apparel-related businesses, adding the Printemps department store and the Orcanta lingerie concept chain to his responsibilities.

“This reorganization is designed to create more operational synergies between companies,” said Weinberg in a statement.

By dividing responsibilities between its two main retailing divisions, PPR prepared itself further to carry out a major strategy shift, first outlined in January. At that time, Weinberg said PPR would shed its business-to-business activities, which span from wood to electrical components, by 2004 to concentrate on retail and luxury.

Weinberg justified the shift by saying that PPR’s B2B activities have grown slowly over the last five years, while luxury and retail — including Fnac, Printemps and Conforama — have barged forward.

No changes were announced concerning the Gucci Group, which continues to report to French billionaire François Pinault, who controls PPR.

As reported, PPR, which emerged as a white-knight suitor for Gucci Group in 1999 when LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton launched a hostile takeover bid for the luxury firm, currently owns about 61 percent of Gucci’s stock. Additionally, it has pledged to buy all the Gucci stock it doesn’t own for $101.50 a share next year.