NOT GOING: Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole are focused on building the Tom Ford brand, at least for now. Contrary to press reports, the two are not working with Bally, the Swiss-based fashion and accessories brand owned by Texas Pacific Group. “It’s just not true,” a Bally spokesman told WWD on Tuesday. “Marco Franchini and De Sole are still in touch, and see one another, but it’s nothing more than that.” Before joining Bally as chairman and chief executive in 2002, the Italian-born Franchini worked for Gucci Group. He has always said De Sole’s approach to business and brand building is an inspiration. Last month De Sole and Ford announced the launch of the Tom Ford brand, starting with a Tom Ford for Estée Lauder collection and an eyewear license with Marcolin.

PUMA SELLS SHARES: Puma AG said Tuesday that German billionaire siblings Günter and Daniela Herz acquired a 16.9 percent stake in the company. Mayfair Vermögensverwaltungsgesellschaft mbH, an asset management company that manages the investments of the two Herz brothers, bought the stake in the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based sports company in several blocks on May 2. The acquisition makes Mayfair the only major shareholder in Puma, with the rest of the company’s share capital in free float on the Frankfurt stock exchange. Mayfair declined to say if it plans to increase its stake. “We welcome Mayfair as a new shareholder and also welcome the investment in the company,” Puma chief executive officer Jochen Zeitz said in a statement. Puma has hinted it may make acquisitions part of its next phase of growth.

KELLWOOD’S NEW CIO: Kellwood Co. has appointed Michael Saunders as chief information officer, following the departure of Don Riley for carpet maker Mohawk Industries. Saunders is a veteran of soft-goods manufacturing, having previously held the cio post at stuffed-animal maker Russ Berrie & Co., Danskin, and women’s wear firm Jenna Lane Group. “He has hands-on experience, he’s young and aggressive, and we liked his chemistry to fit into the Kellwood DNA,” said Hal J. Upbin, chairman and chief executive officer. Saunders will oversee the company’s ongoing initiatives, which include completing the roll-out of Kellwood’s integrated business applications to all divisions and managing the company’s relationship with outsourcer EDS. New projects could include data mining, Upbin added.

This story first appeared in the May 11, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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