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PPR takes majority control of family business

Family-controlled luxury retail giant PPR has gained majority control in watchmaker Sowind Group, controlled by the Macaluso family, in a further move by PPR to increase its presence in the luxury sector.
Francois-Henri Pinault

Family-controlled luxury retail giant PPR has gained majority control in watchmaker Sowind Group, controlled by the Macaluso family, in a further move by PPR to increase its presence in the luxury sector.

PPR, headed by Francois-Henri Pinault, said on 4 July that it has upped its stake in the Swiss watchmaker to 50.1% from its earlier 23% stake. The move comes as PPR continues to refocus its operations on the luxury and lifestyle divisions.

A spokesman for PPR told CampdenFB: “We want to increase our portfolio of luxury brands, especially in areas where we don’t have enough presence. Majority control of the Macaluso family business is the way for PPR to enter the haute horlogerie segment.”

Paris-based PPR increased control through a reserve capital increase – but the spokesman did not disclose any financial details. Following the acquisition, PPR will add high-end luxury Sowind watch brands Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard to its collection.

This move by Pinault is another example of big luxury holding companies consolidating their operations by buying top-end family companies. For example, PPR’s rival LVMH – controlled by Bernard Arnault –acquired Bulgari, a family-controlled luxury jewellery business in March this year.

Arnault said at the time of the acquisition: “Families that have over several generations built up an emblematic brand of the highest quality craftsmanship can appreciate the interest in joining LMVH.”

Sowind Group was founded by the late Luigi Macaluso in 1988. His wife Monica will be vice-chairman of the business, while son Stefano will be general manager of Girard-Perregaux, and Massimo the general manager of JeanRichard.

Pinault will become chairman of Sowind Group, which appears to be in line with his announcement in February that he will directly manage the group’s luxury division.

PPR was founded in 1963 by his father Francois Pinault and the company had 2010 revenues of €14.6 billion. The other brands it owns include Gucci, Puma, Fnac and Yves Saint Laurent.

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