The Printemps supervisory board, headed by Qatari shareholders, explained in a statement that this decision followed “the observation of the difficulties encountered in recent years in the retail sector” and “the need to set up new leadership “.
The company “immediately” initiated a recruitment plan to replace Mr. de Cesare, the statement added, underlining the desire “to accelerate and materialize the Printemps development plan, which is ambitious and greatly supported by its shareholders”.
To the credit of Paolo de Cesare, “a strategy of positioning luxury for Printemps which has been globally successful”, notes luxury expert Serge Carreira.
Under his leadership, “this department store which was very French has become very international and upscale,” he told AFP.
The flagship store on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris “has been modernized, all floors have been redone”, for tens of millions of euros of work, and has resolutely opened up to international customers.
In the luxury sector, the sudden announcement of the departure of Paolo de Cesare surprised some. Asked about a link between this departure and the recent arrival in Spring of Mauro Grimaldi, the former CEO of Pucci, a source doubted the hypothesis of a difference of views between the two Italians. Mr. Grimaldi has just been recruited as the group’s international development manager. But another source estimated that M. de Cesare no longer enjoyed the desired latitude.
The Qatari shareholders of the Disa fund want to accelerate international development. In May 2019, the more than century-old brand bought in 2013 by the Disa fund announced the opening for 2021 of its first two stores abroad, in Doha and Milan. He had also acquired an e-commerce site dedicated to design.
Objective then stated: to change size by opening five to ten stores abroad in ten years and to double sales by 2030.
And this, despite annual results less good than expected last year (fiscal year ended March 30, 2019), due to a “strong impact” of the demonstrations of “yellow vests”: the group, which had first announced counting on “record” sales with growth of 6% to 8%, had ultimately seen its turnover increase “only” by 3% to 1.7 billion euros.
Since then, the sector has suffered another social movement in France, that against the pension reform, but especially the coronavirus epidemic which has affected the activity of department stores due to the lack of tourists.
In its press release Monday, the chain, whose Boulevard Haussmann store is a showcase for French luxury, refers to the difficulties encountered “in recent years” by retail sales, “internationally and especially in France”.
“We are all aware of the need to move the group forward in a rapidly changing retail environment. However, we have found that we need to accelerate the implementation of our plan for the transformation of the business. “, explains Printemps in its press release.
Founded in 1865, the Printemps group owns 19 department stores in France to its name, as well as 8 Citadium stores. In its store on Boulevard Haussmann alone, it welcomes more than 20 million annual visitors.