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Gucci takes direct control of Moscow shops

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[April 15, 2014]  MILAN (Reuters)  Italian fashion and leather brand Gucci, which is owned by French group Kering <PRTP.PA>, has taken direct control of its shops in Moscow and will open two new sales outlets in the Russian capital, the company said on Monday.

The label founded in Florence in 1921 has six shops in Russia, including corners in luxury villages and malls. It will now manage its three Moscow stores directly while its shops in other towns will continue to be run by local partners.

Chief Executive Patrizio di Marco said the move was part of a strategy, to "enhance the consistency of our customers' experience across different markets through progressively taking control of stores that have historically been operated by franchisees and wholesalers". Gucci has also been putting this into practice in the United States, the Gulf and India.

Di Marco said the influence of Russian luxury consumers was growing, echoing Prada's <1913.HK> chief executive, who recently brushed aside questions about whether geopolitical troubles there posed a risk for its business.

Gucci will open a new four-floor flagship store and a location in the upmarket GUM department store in Moscow in the second half the year, the company said.

Other Italian luxury brands including Prada and Moncler <MONC.MI> have been converting wholesale accounts and franchises into directly-operated shops, as they seek to secure higher margins and greater control over their brands.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by Mark Heinrich, Greg Mahlich)

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