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French luxury retailer PPR to become Kering

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

French high-end retailer PPR will change its name to Kering in June to reflect a fresh focus on sportswear and luxury goods, chief executive Francois-Henri Pinault said on Friday.

PPR, originally known as Pinault Printemps Redoute, is shedding its image as a distribution conglomerate to push global brands such as Gucci, Puma and Yves Saint Laurent, with an owl as its logo.

The new name is pronounced like the English word caring, but nonetheless draws on the company's roots in Brittany, where Ker means home, to which the English suffix "ing" has been added to invoke action, Pinault said in a statement.

It will be submitted for approval during an annual general meeting on June 18.

The change reflects a "radical transformation" of a company created in 1963 by wood trader Francois Pinault, the current CEO's father.

In the shake-up, the company is spinning off European outlets such as the FNAC media and electronics retailer. Department store Le Printemps was sold in 2006.

France now accounts for just 5.0 percent of the group's sales, whereas the international market, especially Asia, represents its future.

Kering is pronounced similar to the Chinese expression Kai Yun, which means "the sky which opens," signifying good fortune, Pinault noted.

"More than just the change in scope or activity that this new name reflects, it expresses the group's new identity and our corporate culture," he added.

In addition to symbolising wisdom, the owl logo was chosen because it is "a discreet and protective animal," and is the elder Pinault's favourite animal.

"He always has them on his desk," the son said.

- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story -

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130322/french-luxury-retailer-ppr-become-kering