How I Did It...
Kering S CEO on Finding the *
Elusive Formula for Growing
by François-Henri Pinault
n 2003 my father asked me to dinner at
his favorite restaurant in Paris, where
we both live. He was the chairman of
Artemis—the family holding company
that controls PPR, the conglomerate he'd
founded in 1963, and a variety of other
businesses, including Christie's, the auction house. I had graduated from HEC business school in 1985, had been working at the company since 1987, and had turned
40 a few months earlier. Over dinner my
father told me he wanted to step down and
make me chairman and CEO of Artemis. I
was surprised by the timing and told him
so. "What are you going to do if you stop
working?" I asked him. But my father was
67 and had recently seen a friend die unexpectedly without having prepared for succession at his family-run business, so he felt it was time.
The dinner took place on a Thursday.
When I walked into our headquarters the
following Monday, I found entirely new
furniture in my office-and my father sitting at the desk. "You don't work here anymore—you work there," he said, pointing
When Pinault's team buys a new
luxury brand, it drives organic
growth by helping the brand
with product development,
logistics, and retail stores and
by pairing creative designers
with strong business executives.
March 2014 Harvard Business Review 43
HOW I Di D IT
A FOCUS ON LUXURY
üijfsi m M iiina
Raises its stake in
Gucci Group to 67.6%
Pinault has streamlined
the conglomerate he
took over in 2003 to
concentrate on luxury and
Acquires 42% of
Acquires Alexander McQueen
Raises its stake in
Gucci Group to 53.2%
Acquires Yves Saint Laurent
Acquires Bottega Véneta
Acquires 70% of
Launches Stella McCartney in
a joint venture with McCartney
to the corner office that had been his. He'd
had everything moved over the weekend.
In 1992 my father had organized eight
experienced businesspeople into a group
called the Pinault Trustees. Their job was
to assess over time whether I was capable
of doing his job. Every year I had one-onone lunches with each of them and they came to a big dinner at my father's house.
They were amazing people, and I was lucky
to get to know them—but I disliked being
under the microscope. By 2001 they had
decided that I was a suitable successor, so
the group disbanded.
Two years after taking over the reins
at Artemis, I also became the chairman
and CEO of PPR and faced a key question:
Should I leave things the way they'd been
under my father, or should I take them in
a new direction? PPR (renamed Kering in
June 2013) owned an eclectic set of businesses. We manufactured building products. We owned retail stores and mail-order businesses in Western Europe and America.
We'd acquired Gucci Group, the luxury
goods company, in a series of transactions
beginning in 1999.1 was concerned that our
assets were too closely tied to Western Europe, and to Erance in particular. The company needed to become more international, more growth oriented, more profitable. So
I focused on our luxury segment—apparel
and accessories—which had strong potential for long-term growth. A few years later. 4 4 Harvard Business Review March 2014
in 2007, we acquired a controlling interest
in Puma and decided to build a second strategic pillar in sports and lifestyle around that brand.
During the past decade we've sold off
the other components of the original company and made a series of acquisitions to strengthen our position in the global luxury market. Today, in addition to Gucci, we own 14 luxury brands, including Alexander
McQueen, Brioni, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, and Bottega Véneta. One key to this expansion has been our ability to help
the brands we acquire flnd ways...
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