PPR Reconfigures Retail Operations

PPR is taking over home-wares mail order company La Maison de Valérie from Redcats.

PARIS – PPR S.A. is reconfiguring its operations as it prepares to divest its retail businesses. Conforama, the French retail-to-luxury group’s home-furnishings unit, is taking over home-wares mail order company La Maison de Valérie from Redcats, PPR’s mail order division.

 Financial details weren’t disclosed. “The complementary nature of the Conforama and La Maison de Valérie brands… will allow us to be swiftly competitive in the various sales channels and to increase our market shares as of 2010,” stated Conforama’s chief executive, Thierry Guibert.

The move comes as François-Henri Pinault, chief executive of PPR, is looking to divest the company’s European retail business to focus exclusively on consumer and luxury brands, which include Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and Balenciaga.

Among the retail operations Pinault plans to sell are Conforama and Fnac, a books and electronics retailer. 

Analysts have estimated that the two units could fetch around 4 billion euros, or $6 billion at current exchange rates, which PPR is expected to use to shop for apparel and accessories brands in a move to create a new mass-market division mirroring the luxury goods unit, Gucci Group.

PPR already owns a majority stake in German activewear firm Puma AG.

 As a first step toward streamlining its operations, PPR announced in October plans to spin off a majority stake in its African distribution business, CFAO, in a move to raise up to 1 billion euros, or $1.5 billion.

PPR is offering 31 million CFAO shares, representing 50.4 percent of the business, and may sell a further 4.65 million shares for a total of 35.65 million shares priced between 24.80 and 29 euros each, or $37.10 and $43.40.

CFAO shares are expected to start trading on the Paris stock exchange on Dec. 3.