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PARIS — Printemps chief executive officer Paolo de Cesare has left the Paris department store and the company is looking for his replacement, the supervisory board said in a statement on Monday.

“The decision of the supervisory board stems from difficulties in recent years in the retail business, internationally and especially in France, and from the necessity to put in place new leadership in order to accelerate and realize Printemps’ development plan, which is ambitious and strongly supported by its shareholders,” the statement said.

The board added that it is building a basis for growth by reinforcing its team, refocusing the store offer, widening commercial avenues through digital channels, improving operations, optimizing costs and developing abroad.

De Cesare, who is president of the Intercontinental Group of Department Stores, has overseen extensive renovations and an upscaling drive at Printemps, a plan set in motion following the acquisition of the store in 2013 by Divine Investments SA, a Luxembourg-based investment fund backed by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former emir of Qatar, whose other properties include London department store Harrods and Italian fashion label Valentino. Printemps previously belonged to PPR, the precursor to Kering. De Cesare joined the store in 2007.

As reported, Printemps tapped former Pucci ceo Mauro Grimaldi to spearhead its international expansion with plans to open its first overseas store by early 2021, as part of a planned expansion that will result in the opening of five to 10 new units worldwide in the next decade.

A year and a half ago, De Cesare had said the Printemps’ Haussmann flagship had seen an increase in traffic following its a multiyear, 100-million-euro renovation, which entailed a total revamp of its men’s, beauty, homewares and children’s offer, as well as the addition of a food hall on an upper floor. The Paris flagship was expected to draw 25 million visitors in 2018, with sales projected to top 1 billion euros.

The Haussmann flagship had served as the main driver of growth for Printemps, largely outpacing other 18 stores in the chain.

But the challenges to Printemps and neighboring rival Galeries Lafayette have mounted in recent months. Already struggling to regain business lost to the yellow vest protests that disrupted the crucial end-of-year shopping season, transport strikes this winter brought on another wave of disturbance. The spread of coronavirus has dried up tourism flows — particularly from China — that French department stores have come to rely on for a large portion of sales. As the virus spreads in France, domestic consumption will likely be hit as well.

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