BATON PASSED AT PiaGET: Robert Filotei is stepping down as president of Piaget’s North America division, and will be replaced by Richemont North America executive Thomas Van Der Kallen. Filotei, who has had a long career in the watch and jewelry industry and has spent the last 13 years at Richemont North America, Piaget’s parent firm, said in a statement: "It was time for a change." He could not be reached for comment on Friday. In addition to Piaget, Filotei held management positions at Officine Panerai and Cartier. Van Der Kallen, who takes over the post on Nov. 1, was president of Richemont’s watch division in North America. That position is being eliminated and the Richemont watch brand executives will now be reporting to Callum Barton, chief executive officer of Richemont North America, a company spokeswoman said.

A FACET OF FINAREF: Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, the diversified retailer that controls Gucci Group, on Friday said it’s in exclusive negotiations to sell a major part of its financial services arm to French bank BNP Paribas for about $843 million. PPR said it plans to sell 90 percent of Facet, the consumer credit division that’s tied to its home furnishings retail unit Conforama and part of its consumer credit group, Finaref. As reported, PPR is seeking to divest Finaref to reduce its $6 billion debt and soothe investor jitters over its commitment in 2004 to pay $4.8 billion for the 47 percent stake in Gucci it does not already own. "This deal is part of our intention to ultimately sell the credit and financial services business," said PPR chief executive Serge Weinberg in a statement, reiterating the strategy he outlined earlier last week during a conference call.

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