FASHION MAKEOVER

Gucci Heir Looks to Sell Retail Biz

Placing a firm bet on the future of fashion and retail, François-Henri Pinault, chief executive of PPR SA—the French luxury giant that owns brands like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Puma—revealed to The Wall Street Journal his plans to sell off the company's retail divisions and refocus on its global brands. "We have a major weakness—retail," Pinault says. "It is a business that cannot develop quickly abroad." Analysts say that selling off its retail holdings, which include the electronics chain Fnac and the furniture retailer Conforama, could net the company some $6 billion, enough for Pinault to then double-down on apparel brands to create and shore up a new mass-market division to complement its luxury-goods family. Pinault, whose father built PPR on the back of the family's lumber business, buying Gucci in 1999, started the move away from retail in 2005; after buying Puma in 2007, the company is now actively looking for a buyer for Fnac and Conforama, while also looking for available mass-market brands to join Puma in the new division.