Kering CEO Francois-Henri Pinault came to Korea, Wednesday, to meet owners and CEOs of retail giants here, according to industry sources.
Kering, which changed its name from PPR in 2013, is the French luxury goods holding company owner of more than 20 luxury sport and lifestyle brands including Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent Paris, Balenciaga, Brioni and Puma, which are sold worldwide,.
Pinault reportedly visited Hyundai Department Store in Apgujeong, southeastern Seoul, Wednesday, and was shown around by CEO Park Dong-woon.
Chairman Chung Ji-sun did not meet Pinault, due to a scheduling conflict.
The sources said Pinault also met Shinsegae Department Store President Chung Yoo-kyung and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin on Thursday.
Pinault is also reportedly scheduled to meet Hotel Shilla President Lee Bu-jin.
In 2012, Pinault visited Korea as PPR chairman and met Shin and Lee. At that time, he looked around Lotte Department Store, Lotte Duty Free, Hanwha Galleria Department Store, Shinsegae Department Store and Shilla Duty Free over three days.
Observers are paying attention to Pinault’s visit, which is only a week before new duty-free store operators are named, Dec. 17.
Some sources anticipate Pinault and Korean retailers will discuss offering Kering’s luxury brands at the stores.
However, candidates for duty free store cannot name what was not included in their business proposals submitted in October, during their final presentations.
Other observers therefore believe Pinault’s visit is not related to duty free stores.
Those observers say Pinault was here to talk with Korean retailers, so Kering’s brands can expand their presence here and in other Asian countries, especially China.
With rapid sales growth, Asia has recently been in the limelight among global luxury brand retailers.
In April, Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (LVMH) Chairman Bernard Arnault visited Korea and met Hotel Shilla’s Lee and Shinsegae’s Chung.
Arnault also came to Korea last year for the opening celebration of The House of Dior, a flagship store in Apgujeong.