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Kering, the New Name of Luxury Brand PPR, Means Something Else in Indonesian

French luxury and retail group PPR Chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault presents the new group's name on Mar. 22, 2013 in Paris.

Photograph by Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images

French luxury and retail group PPR Chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault presents the new group's name on Mar. 22, 2013 in Paris.

Meet the global leaders in luxury goods: LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (MC:FP). Hermès (RMS:FP). Chanel. Kering.

Wait, Kering? If you happen to speak Indonesian, the word means “dry” or “dried”—as in, “this food is dry.”

It’s also the new corporate name of PPR (PP:FP), parent company of Gucci and a raft of other high-end brands, including Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta.

The moniker, unveiled today at a Paris press conference, was chosen after a yearlong search by PPR with help from three consulting firms. It is supposed to evoke “caring,” Chief Executive Officer François-Henri Pinault told reporters. It also draws on the word “ker,” which means “home” in the indigenous language of Brittany, where Pinault’s father founded the family business in the early 1960s.

“Kering is a name with a meaning, a name that expresses both our purpose and our corporate vision,” Pinault said. The Indonesian translation, he added, “completely escaped us.” A company spokeswoman declined to say how much the corporate rebranding would cost.

The PPR name is arguably no longer relevant to the company’s business. It’s an abbreviation for Pinault-Printemps-Redoute: Printemps refers to a Paris department store that PPR no longer owns, and Redoute to a mail-order business the company is selling off. Under the younger Pinault, PPR has been shedding assets to focus on luxury and sporting-good brands, such as Puma and Volcom, seen as having more potential for growth and higher profits.

While analysts have generally applauded the transformation, they’re less enthusiastic about PPR’s new name. “This is just nice-to-have or borderline useless,” Luca Solca, a luxury analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, told Bloomberg News.

Case studies on corporate rebrandings that produced no financial benefit “could fill a library,” says Roger Tredre, senior vice president of content at research and advisory firm Stylus. “PPR should tread with caution.”

Especially, it would seem, in Indonesia.

With Andrew Roberts
Matlack is a Paris correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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