>> Even designers are shopping the closet when it comes to piecing together their latest collection. Fortune's Peter Gumbel writes in his new profile on Francois-Henri Pinault of PPR: "All the brands have been scouring for ways to save cash. Hiring and salaries have been frozen since last September. Bonuses for this year have been halved too. Inventiveness has become the order of the day."
Robert Polet, CEO of PPR's Gucci Group, illustrates with a story of how he found Tomas Maier on the floor of Bottega Veneta's headquarters in New York City with his shoe manager last November, going through a pile of books filled with leather and skin samples. Fortune relates: "They were checking how much of each material they had in stock, planning to use it up in the next collections. 'I left the room and thought, Wow,' Polet says. 'Finding ways to manage down inventory has almost become a sport.'"
So how does Pinault feel about YSL's losses? »
Despite all the cost controls Pinault has implemented, some of the group's brands are still suffering — YSL reported a $24 million operating loss in the first half. The Gucci brands as a whole accounted for just 17 percent of PPR's revenue in 2008 but more than 40 percent of its operating income. But Pinault, Fortune reports, remains cautious about focusing on the short-term outlook.
Regardless of what happens, Francois Pinault senior is confident in his son's ability: "He has a lot of sang-froid. I'm impressed — but don't tell him that. We're not a family that gives compliments easily." He used to stop by Polet's office to check in on Francois-Henri, but no longer feels the need; he jokes that if he drops by a Gucci store now, "It's only to check for dust. I follow [Francois-Henri's] activity, but I'm not looking over his shoulder every morning to see what he's doing."