MILAN — Pinault-Printemps-Redoute and its parent, Artemis, denied a weekend press report that it is mulling leadership changes at Gucci and said talks are ongoing to renew the contracts of Gucci chief executive Domenico De Sole and creative director Tom Ford.
“There is no search for alternative solutions going on right now,” said a spokesman for PPR, thus denying a report in The Financial Times on Saturday that quoted an unnamed source as saying that Artemis and PPR were considering “alternative solutions” going forward and that the talks with De Sole and Ford regarding renewing their contracts were making slow progress.
The PPR spokesman said Monday that the French retailer, which owns a majority stake in Gucci, is not contacting candidates to fill the ceo and creative director slots at the Italian fashion group.
A spokeswoman for Artemis, the private holding firm that controls PPR, reiterated the denial.
The employment contracts of both De Sole and Ford expire next year. As reported, there’s been plenty of speculation in the industry that one or both men could choose to leave the company amid buzz that PPR could encroach on Gucci’s managerial independence.
PPR must buy all outstanding shares in the company next year — a move that will likely delist Gucci from the stock market and give PPR 100 percent control of the company.
Ford and De Sole told WWD in March that the two will stay on board if PPR preserves Gucci’s current autonomy.
“We both have an incredible love and loyalty to the company and a desire to continue what we’ve been doing indefinitely, but only if we are allowed to operate in the way that we have in the past,” Ford said in an interview during Milan Fashion Week.
A PPR spokesman said Monday that contract discussions are continuing, but he couldn’t quantify how much more negotiating time is needed. He added that PPR doesn’t feel rushed as De Sole’s contract doesn’t expire until March 2004 and Ford’s in June 2004.
“One expires in nine months and one in a year,” he said.
Gucci was also mum on the state of play. “There is nothing new to report on the contract negotiations,” a spokesman said.