PARIS — PPR chairman and chief executive officer François-Henri Pinault said Thursday he is confident the French retail-to-luxury group would continue to profit from the economic rebound in 2011 after an “excellent” 2010.

This story first appeared in the May 20, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

He did not give specific figures, promising only an “improved financial performance.”

Speaking at PPR’s annual shareholders’ meeting, an upbeat Pinault trumpeted the group’s potential to expand organically, stressing he would “take the necessary time” to dispose of its remaining retail holdings — books, music and electronics chain Fnac and catalogue retailer Redcats — and plump up its nascent sport and lifestyle division with select acquisitions.

“Our priority is to grow internally,” he said, reiterating the company’s future focus on clothes and accessories in the luxury and mass market segments. “We have an enormous potential in front of us.”

In the first quarter, PPR said strong demand for luxury goods helped boost revenues 9.1 percent to 3.71 billion euros, or $5.07 billion, as reported.

Pressed for details on its acquisitions agenda, Pinault did not identify potential targets, but cited a strong preference for underdeveloped, smaller-scale players, leveraging the group’s expertise to grow brands on a global scale.

The group has already cited the outdoor segment as a possible future area for expansion.

He reiterated that the priority is to build its sport-lifestyle division around Puma AG, which PPR acquired in 2007. Pinault cited a wealth of brands in the sport segment, while allowing the group could also “seize on opportunities” to add to its stable of eight luxury businesses, which include Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga.

He noted that revenues at Bottega Veneta were around 35 million euros in 2001 when PPR acquired the Italian maker of woven leather handbags, whereas revenues totaled 510.6 million euros last year.

The executive screened a clip showing daredevils on the slopes, waves and city curbs to introduce Volcom to an audience comprised largely of older people. On May 11, PPR launched a tender offer for the Californian action-sports brand.

Pinault took the occasion to trumpet Alexander McQueen’s recent coups: a hit show at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and dressing Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and her sister, Pippa Middleton, for last month’s royal wedding in England.

He also posed for photos with the winner of PPR’s Innovation and Sustainable Development Awards. Projects included a biodegradable line of Puma sneakers slated to launch in tandem with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and a range of clothes made from fiber scraps recovered in Asia.

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