LONDON — Kering, the owner of high-fashion labels such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, is getting out of the sports lifestyle business.
On Thursday, the French conglomerate said it would spin off the German sports brand Puma to its shareholders, the final move in a series of deals brokered by Kering as part of its transformation into a pure luxury player. The move is a signal of Kering’s belief in the health of the highest-end of the consumer market.
The group said that it planned to distribute 70 percent of Puma shares in kind to existing Kering investors, out of the 86 percent it currently owns. Kering would retain the 16 percent of shares left outstanding. Artémis, the holding company of France’s billionaire Pinault family that holds 41 percent of Kering shares, would then become a “long-term strategic shareholder” in Puma, with an ownership stake of about 29 percent. The number of Puma’s publicly traded shares would be increased to approximately 55 percent, a statement from Kering said.
Speculation that Kering would divest Puma has been longstanding. The group first acquired a majority stake in Puma in 2007 for 5.3 billion euros (about $7 billion) as part of a move into the athletics and lifestyle arena. However, Puma underperformed and consistently posted flat sales, only seeing a turnaround in 2015.
By that stage Kering — which started in 1963 as a trader of timber and construction materials, eventually moving in and out of sectors as opportunity allowed — had divested most of its non-luxury assets, such as French retail brand Printemps and the catalog label La Redoute, and narrowed its focus to increasing market share in the fast-growing, high-margin world of global luxury.