“The past is past and doesn’t let you take any risks. The present and the future mean creation, boldness and adventure. Of course I still doubt a lot. Because nothing can ever be taken for granted.”
Founder and Honorary Chairman: Kering S.A.; Founder and Member of the Board of Directors: Groupe Artémis
Born: 21st August 1936, Les Champs-Géraux, France
Nationality: French
Constructive, Expressive, Unwavering
  1. Bind your potential and master the art of  navigating tough situations
  2. Commitment paves the way for accomplishment

  1. Implementing effective strategies to help undervalued and indebted firms
  2. Contesting the legal battle against LVMH to gain a major stake in Gucci
  3. Collection of the finest contemporary work involving post World War 2 artists for his art auction firm, Christie’s

François Pinault grew up in a village in Brittany where his father owned a farm and operated a small saw mill. When he joined high school boarding at Rennes, he became the first in his village to do so. But, he never really enjoyed studying there and dropped out in the eleventh grade to learn the timber business at Luchon School. He then joined the army as a volunteer in Algeria where he took active part in guerrilla operations and became a non-commissioned officer after having earned the respect of his superiors. Upon his return to Brittany in 1958, he worked in the timber merchant business at Gautier Brothers Company where he survived the cut-throat competition to maintain a foothold in the operations of the firm.

While working at the firm, he married into the Gautier family and acquired ownership of the company. With their financial help he changed the firm to a sole proprietorship, renaming it Pinault Company. However, a few years later at the time of his divorce, he repaid all the debts and loans to his father-in-law and retained ownership of the firm. Over the years, François managed to develop a sharp sense of judgment and profited heavily from the futures trade. He signed agreements with his customers and started importing timber directly instead of having to source it from other importers. He was particularly successful in Sweden and Canada. Although he had amassed great wealth, he sold a majority share in his firm to an English Group called Venesta, in 1973.

When the price of timber collapsed a few years later, suppliers who had already accepted large orders from the firm feared for their payments and imposed penalties. François turned to Venesta, but found that the company did not have the required cash. He played a masterstroke which enabled him to retain Venesta shares at a cost that was much lower than the original selling price.

With sharp business acumen, he bought firms on the verge of bankruptcy and eliminated liabilities, renegotiated the debt with banks in addition to obtaining subsidies from the government in lieu of job protection. Through a range of acquisitions and some political support, François Pinault was able to position himself as an icon in the European markets.




Established Pinault Group (Etablissements Pinault) that traded timber and distributed construction material



Entered the retail sector



Took over Au Printemps SA and created Pinault-Printemps



Pinault-Printemps merged with La Redoute and was renamed Pinault-Printemps-Redoute



The company launched its website,



It acquired 42% share in Gucci Group NV



François handed the control of Artémis to his son, François-Henri Pinault



Artémis increased its stake in Gucci to 99.4



Pinault-Printemps-Redoute was renamed PPR



PPR was renamed Kering



The firm closed its sales of La Redoute and Relais Colis

The luxury goods holding company Kering has a controlling stake in powerhouse brands such as Yves Saint Laurent Paris, Alexander Mcqueen, Balenciaga and Stella McCartney. Groupe Artémis owns 40.9% of Kering, art auction house Christie’s, winery Château Latour, Le Point, Stade Rennais F.C. and Théâtre Marigny.