PPR CREDIT CLINCHER: Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, the retail giant with a majority stake in Gucci Group, has completed the sale of 90 percent of its credit and financial services division, Finaref, to French bank Credit Agricole. Under the agreement, the sale will be completed in two phases — 61 percent next month and 29 percent in January 2004. PPR has also sold 90 percent of Facet, the consumer credit card division tied to its Conforama furniture chain, to French bank BNP Paribas. Besides the 10 percent stakes it will retain in Finaref and Facet, PPR will keep control over their commercial files and marketing. The underlying value of the businesses sold is more than $3.68 billion (converted from euros at current exchange rates).

OAKLEY’S NEW POST: Oakley Inc. has promoted Cliff Neill to the new position of vice president of U.S. sales. Neill, who has been with Oakley for 17 years, will oversee the company’s domestic sales. Previously, he held such posts as regional sales manager, national account manager and national sales director. Jim Jannard, chief executive officer, said Neill was instrumental in implementing the Oakley Premium Dealer program last year and "has been critical to the strategic deployment of our distribution strategies."

HIGH FLYER: Olivier Lapidus has succeeded Pierre Cardin as the designer of Air China for its women’s uniforms. Lapidus, who is Ted Lapidus’ son, has created outfits for the staff of the Hotel Crillon in Paris and France’s national railway, the SNCF, among other groups. Bejing-based textile company Yimian will produce the Air China uniforms.

SHOE BIZ: Stephane Kelian, the high-end maker of shoes and accessories, has been acquired by Groupe Alain Dumenil. As reported, Kelian had filed for the French equivalent of Chapter 11 proceedings in September. Besides its Stephane Kelian line, the firm — which employs about 550 people — also produces the low-priced Mosquitos shoe brand. Kelian had losses of about $1 million last year on sales of about $46 million.

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