NEW MAN: PPR on Tuesday appointed Ross McInnes as executive vice president of finance, the most recent management change since François-Henri Pinault took over as chairman in March. In the newly created post, McInnes, who begins July 1, will be responsible for all of PPR’s financial functions. Patrice Marteau, the group’s longstanding chief financial officer, will remain with PPR as corporate secretary, overseeing legal, insurance and internal audit matters. McInnes joins PPR from Thales, the electronics company for the defense and aerospace markets, where he had been chief financial officer for the last five years.
AMAZON’S LINK: Marks & Spencer has signed a deal with e-commerce provider Amazon Services Europe Inc., a subsidiary of Amazon.com Inc., based in Luxembourg, which will host and provide the technology behind the M&S branded Web site. It will also provide the underlying systems for Marks & Spencer’s in-store and telephone ordering and customer service systems. M&S will manage the Web site and handle customer service, warehousing and distribution. Marks & Spencer customers will benefit from the creation of an integrated order system, the companies said in a statement. For example, if a customer orders a pair of jeans from the Web site, she can change or check the status of her order online, with a customer assistant in the store or by calling the M&S customer service line, according to an Amazon spokesman. M&S customers can already return items purchased on its Web site by mail or in the store. The two companies expect to complete the first phase of the project by early summer 2006.
LONDON LEVERAGE: Two English luxury retailers are taking advantage of the rising value of central London retail property to bankroll their expansion. A&G Group, parent of the Asprey and Garrard brands, and Liberty, the specialty store, both sealed sale-and-leaseback deals this week for their London flagships. A&G has sold Asprey’s Bond Street store to Quinlan Private, the Irish property group, for an estimated 55 million pounds ($105 million at current exchange), although an Asprey spokeswoman declined to confirm the price. A&G Group said it planned to use the proceeds to fund its international expansion program. Asprey has been trading from Bond Street since 1847, and the current building has been handed back to A&G Group on a long-term lease that will last for at least 25 years. Meanwhile, Liberty, which has been undergoing a revamp, has sold two London buildings to a joint venture between Great Portland Estates and the Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society for 66.5 million pounds ($127 million). The sale has enabled Liberty to wipe out debts of nearly 62 million pounds, or $118 million, and to focus on building its in-house brand, which it eventually plans to wholesale and retail internationally.