Polet’s Debut for Gucci: CEO Lauds ‘Mini-Boom’ As Profits Climb 33%

PPR’s net income shot up 61.5 percent to 191.1 million euros, boosted by luxury goods, but was well shy of expectations of about 360 million euros.

Robert Polet

Robert Polet

Photo By Stephane Feugere

PARIS — Robert Polet has spent the last two months getting a crash course in luxury, Gucci style — and so far, the Dutchman likes what he sees.

The former Unilever frozen-foods honcho on Thursday delivered an upbeat assessment of his new job as Gucci Group’s chief executive, praising its brands, business fundamentals and entrepreneurial spirit, but stopping short of providing a strategic plan. He isn’t expected to table that until December.

“I’ve been around the world in 60 days,” said a relaxed and charismatic Polet at a gathering here to disclose Gucci parent Pinault-Printemps-Redoute’s first-half results. PPR’s net income shot up 61.5 percent to 191.1 million euros, or $234.7 million, boosted by luxury and the sale of noncore assets, but was well shy of consensus expectations of about 360 million euros, or $442 million. Dollar figures are at average exchange rates.

Earnings before interest and taxes of 569.2 million euros, or $698.9 million, down 2 percent, also fell short of market expectations. Shares in PPR fell 6 percent Thursday to close at 70.50 euros, or $85.70, in trading on the Paris Bourse.

As reported, PPR, whose far-flung interests span department stores to catalogues, saw first-half sales decline 7.4 percent to 11.37 billion euros, or $13.96 billion.

Gucci Group’s pro forma EBIT gained 33 percent to 150.4 million euros, or $184.7 million, in the half. Sales rose 4.4 percent to 1.34 billion euros, or $1.65 billion, from 1.28 billion euros, or $1.42 billion, in the corresponding period of 2003.

The Gucci brand saw EBIT gain 6.1 percent in the first half to 231.5 million euros, or $284.2 million. Losses narrowed to 35 million euros, or $42.9 million, at Gucci’s so-called “other” brands, including Balenciaga, Boucheron, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney.

Losses also dropped at Bottega Veneta, to 6.6 million euros, or $8.1 million, from 10.1 million euros, or $11.2 million.

PPR chief executive Serge Weinberg said losses at YSL had widened to 39 million euros, or $47.9 million, from 35 million euros, or $38.7 million, with 7 million euros, or $8.6 million, attributable to new store openings.
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