French luxury firms seeking Italian menswear - Armani

MILAN Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:25am EST

Italian designer Giorgio Armani poses for photographers as he leaves the opening ceremony of the Armani Hotel Milano in Milan November 10, 2011. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Italian designer Giorgio Armani poses for photographers as he leaves the opening ceremony of the Armani Hotel Milano in Milan November 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo

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MILAN (Reuters) - French luxury groups are on the prowl for promising Italian menswear brands after France's PPR (PRTP.PA) bought Italian tailor Brioni this month, fashion doyen Giorgio Armani said on Tuesday adding that his business was not for sale.

PPR, which owns luxury Italian handbag and shoemaker Gucci was well as French fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent, finalized its acquisition of Brioni this month, reviving market expectations of a new consolidation trend in the industry.

"The French are very aggressive, they are looking for fantastic brands with an established business and share markets," Armani told reporters at the Milan menswear week ending on Tuesday. "This is not over yet."

"But I am not a financier like (PPR Chief Executive Francois-Henri) Pinault. I am a designer and a businessman," Armani said backstage after his show, which featured four-dart trousers and double-breasted coats in knitted wool.

"What I have, in all sectors, is enough. The only thing I miss, is being 30 years younger," the 77-year-old designer said.

Armani, who has just opened a second luxury hotel with room prices ranging from 500 euros ($630) to 11,000 euros, said he was confident about 2012 despite economic turmoil.

"Revenue grew double-digit in 2011, above our expectations," he said. "We are investing, there is lots to do."

The unlisted Armani empire, which employs over 5,300 people and also makes eyewear, watches, jewelry and high-end home furniture, had net cash of 604 million euros in 2010.

The hands-on designer, who cherishes the independence of his 6-billion-euro business, has said he does not intend to go public or sell to private investors.

"Nobody is knocking on my door, officially," Armani said on Tuesday, recalling that he has been on the radar of Bernard Arnault, chief executive of French giant LVMH (LVMH.PA).

Armani said his sober, wearable Emporio Armani collection was inspired by Italy's new Prime Minister Mario Monti, a distinguished economist known for his modest lifestyle who took over from scandal-plagued media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi.

"We read in the newspapers of this distinguished man, of the need for a less aggressive attitude," he said.

($1 = 0.7891 euros)

(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio, editing by Paul Casciato)

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