WASHINGTON — The story of how Iraklis Karabassis became Benetton Group’s vehicle for growth in the U.S. began with a sharp detour from a geology career in his native Greece.

Karabassis, chief executive officer of The IK Retail Group, now owns 97 of the 114 Benetton stores in the U.S. through licensing agreements, selling the Italian brand’s hip sportswear. He plans to open at least 10 more next year.

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