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Bangladeshi Garment Factories Close
EU Demands Human Rights Pledge from Sri Lanka
China To Raise Cotton Import Quotas
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July 1, 2010
The McPete Sez Lingerie Newsletter & Women's
The National Garment Workers' Federation (NGWF) led a rally of
Bangladeshi garment workers in Dhaka to demand an increase in the national
Garment factories in some parts of Bangladesh have closed for an
indefinite period following three days of violent protests by thousands of
workers calling for an increase in the national minimum wage.
Local news reports say demonstrations have centered on the Ashulia
manufacturing zone near Dhaka, where owners have been forced to shut all
250 garment factories after workers clashed with security forces.
At least 30 people were injured after security officials fired tear gas
and rubber bullets to try to break up the crowds.
Labor unrest is also said to have taken place at another apparel hub in
Kanchpur where export-oriented factories are located - although there are
reports that factories in the Export Processing Zone are still working.
Pay and working conditions in factories in Bangladesh have long been a
source of concern, with protestors calling for basic pay to be raised to
BDT5,000 (US$72) a month to enable workers to meet their living needs
including food, shelter, clothes, education, health care and transport.
Currently, most workers earn just BDT1,662 (US$24) per month - the
national minimum wage set by the government back in 2006.
But for many, the situation is thought to be even more desperate. Not only
have workers had to face rising inflation over the past four years, but
factories have cut wages by 20-30% in a bid to compete for orders with
countries such as Vietnam, China and India.
And unskilled workers in the garment sector are even worse off, receiving
just BDT800 (US$11.5) a month and often forced to work 14-16 hours a day.
Labor groups also claim that in many cases salaries are not paid on time,
with delays of up to two months to receive their pay checks.
Bangladesh has also been criticized for in the most recent annual survey
of trade union rights by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
"The lifting of the state of emergency raised hopes of an improvement
in the situation for the Bangladesh trade union movement and better
economic conditions for workers, but nothing has changed in
practice," the report says.
It adds: "Six garment workers were killed in attacks by the police or
company security guards during strikes or protests linked to wage
Officials from the country's Ministry of Labor and Employment and Garment
Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) in April said they were
ironing out a deal to increase worker wages - although no details were
given about the scale of the rise or when it would be introduced.
Pressure for change is also coming from global retailers, including
Walmart, Gap Inc and H&M, who in February urged the Bangladeshi Prime
Minister to take "swift action" over low garment worker wages
which they fear could taint their reputations as socially responsible
Garments are Bangladesh's biggest export, with some 4,000 garment
factories employing 2m people and accounting for more than 80% of annual
export earnings worth $15bn.
But Amin Haque, president of the National Garment Workers' Federation (NGWF),
predicts that further labor unrest is inevitable unless the government
takes action to raise the national minimum wage to levels that ensure
decent standards of living for workers.
A model wears Hoss
International at the
International Lingerie Fashion Show at the
Rio Hotel, Las Vegas. Photo by Jerome Hamilton
EU Demands Human Rights
Pledge from Sri Lanka
The EU has demanded a written pledge from the Sri Lankan
government promising to improve its dismal human rights record before it will consider renewing preferential trade
benefits which are currently set to expire in August.
"The date of 15 August on which Sri Lanka would cease to benefit from GSP+ will not be extended unconditionally," the
Delegation of the European Union to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka & the Maldives said.
Instead, it has given the Sri Lankan government until July 1 to give a written commitment to improving the country's human
The EU delegation in Colombo yesterday (June 22) said the European Commission is ready to propose to the EU the
GSP+ preferences are maintained for a limited additional period, if the rights pledge is made.
It wants Sri Lanka to undertake "a well defined number of human rights related actions, within a 6 month time frame
beginning in July of this year, and to provide reassurances as to the sustainability of progress registered under the GSP
The European Union (EU) in February announced plans to withdraw the country's GSP+ trade benefits on 15 August over
Sri Lanka's poor human-rights record. The GSP+ (Generalized System of Preferences) benefits have given its apparel
exports zero duty access to the EU since 2005
The end of preferences would mean exports revert to a duty of up to 9.6% - effectively a 9.6% price hike - as they fall
back to GSP levels.
This is still lower than the full rate of 12% for most clothing imported into the EU, and puts Sri Lanka's imports
on the same duty as countries like India and Pakistan.
That said, while the loss of the EU concession will clearly hurt many Sri Lankan exporters and lose many Sri Lankan jobs
- the thriving garment industry has other strings in its bow.
For many firms Sri Lanka's strengths lie in garments like bras, on which the EU will only charge 5.2% duty. And around
a third of the garments it sends to Europe don't qualify for duty-free entry in the first place.
Also, nearly half of the country's garment exports don't go to the EU at all, with 40-45% of sales heading to the US.
Tia Lyn's NY Fashion Show with beautiful models of ALL SIZES!
Brazil Agrees to Postpone
Brazil has agreed to postpone until 2012 a series of
retaliatory measures against American goods which had been planned as part of a long-running dispute over cotton
Under the deal, which extends an agreement negotiated with the US in April, Brazil will put off more than $830m worth of
tariffs on US imports.
This includes more than $560m in countermeasures which were scheduled to come into force June 21, as well as possible
countermeasures on intellectual property rights that could have taken effect later.
The 100% tariff imposed by Brazil would have hit imports of US cotton and other tariffs on a list of US goods including
cars, wheat and milk powder.
The action was supported by the World Trade Organization, which ruled last year that Brazil could take punitive action
after the US had spent too much on cotton subsidies and export credit guarantees.
Retaliatory measures will now be put off while the US negotiates a new farm bill to replace the current law which
is set to expire on September 30,2012.
The bill contains subsidies to cotton producers and export credit guarantees - both of which the WTO ruled as too high.
As part of the deal agreed in April, the US will set up an annual assistance fund of $147.3m to compensate Brazilian
China To Raise Cotton
China is to raise its cotton import quotas by nearly 1m metric tons and sell more from government stockpiles to try
to satisfy rising domestic demand for the fiber.
According to a notice from the China Cotton Association, the government has approved a plan to release 600,000 tons of
cotton from state stockpiles, which are available as soon as required.
The total import quotas issued this season have reached 3.6m tons, the statement said.
The State Council has made the move to meet the needs of local textile firms and help
stabilize the cotton market.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, China’s cotton consumption is estimated at 10.34m tons in the 2009-2010
season, while production is likely to be just 7.1m tons.
May Retailers Sales Review
Abercrombie & Fitch booked a 10% rise in net sales to $197.6m, up from last May's $179.0m. But it said comparable store sales decreased 3%. For the fiscal month, direct-to-consumer net merchandise sales increased 34% to $19.2m and international sales surged 84% to $36.9m. Same-store sales were up 2% at Abercrombie & Fitch, but fell 10% and 6% at Abercrombie Kids and Hollister Co respectively.
Aeropostale Inc total net sales increased 7% to $141.6m, compared with $132.9m a year ago. The company's same store sales increased 1% for the month, versus a rise of 19% in the year ago period. The Memorial Day calendar shift had a negative impact, the company said, but added that merchandise margins "increased significantly."
American Eagle Outfitters reported a 3% drop in May same-store sales. Total sales dipped 1% to $193m, down from $196m the year before.
For The Bon-Ton Stores Inc, total sales for fiscal May dropped 1.3% to $186.5m compared with $188.9m a year ago. Same-store sales decreased 1.1%. Unseasonable weather in early May and the Memorial Day shift were blamed. Best performing categories were children's, moderate missy, petites and large size sportswear.
The Cato Corporation said its sales rose 4% to $80.9m for the month of May, up from $78.1m a year earlier. Same-store sales were up 3%. The one-week shift in the Memorial Day holiday helped this month's revenues, the company said.
Destination Maternity Corporation saw its net sales rise 1.6% to $52.2m, from $51.3m a year ago, helped by demand for its Two Hearts Maternity collection in Sears and Kmart. Same-store sales dropped 3.9%, which the company blamed on a calendar timing shift.
Merchandise sales at Dillard's Inc slipped 0.8% to $426.5m, from $430.1m last time. Sales in comparable stores were unchanged, the retailer said.
Gap Inc posted a 1% rise in same-store sales in May, with growth across all divisions except its namesake chain. Net sales were up 2% in the four weeks to
May 29, climbing to $1.05bn from $1.03bn a year earlier. By division, same-store sales fell 2% at Gap North America, and rose 1% at both Banana Republic North America and Old Navy North America. International sales climbed 8%.
Hot Topic Inc's sales slipped 7.4% to $42.6m, on declines at both its Hot Topic and Torrid chains. Comparable store sales were down 9%, with a 9.6% drop at Hot Topic and a fall of 7.4% at Torrid. The company operates 681 Hot Topic stores and 155 Torrid stores.
JC Penney Company Inc posted a 2.1% drop in sales in May, down to $1.23bn from $1.25bn last time. Same-store sales fell 1.8%. Men's, women's accessories, and shoes and handbags were the top performing merchandise divisions.
Kohl's Corporation booked a 6.6% rise in total sales for May, climbing to $1.34bn from $1.26bn the year before. On a comparable store basis, sales increased 3.5% - with footwear the best performer.
Limited Brands Inc, which operates the Victoria's Secret, Pink and La Senza chains, said its net sales were $657.3m in May, a rise of 6.2% on last year's $618.7m. Same-store sales increased 5%.
Macy's Inc reported total sales of $1.79bn for the four weeks to
May 29, a rise of 2.6% on last year's $1.744bn. On a same-store basis, Macy's sales were up 1.4%. The retailer said customers are responding to spring fashions at Macy's and Bloomingdale's. Online sales were up 23.2% in the month.
Nordstrom Inc said its same-store sales rose 3.7% in the four-week period. Total retail sales were $705m, an increase of 7.8% on last year's $653m. Multi-channel same-store sales were hit by the later timing of its half-yearly sale for women and kids, Nordstrom said.
Ross Stores Inc posted a 9% rise in sales to $614m, up from $564m last May. Comparable store sales for the month grew 5% on top of a 4% gain in the prior year period. The company, which has 967 Ross Dress for Less stores and 54 dd's Discounts locations, said dresses and home were the strongest merchandise categories.
Saks Incorporated said owned sales totaled $177.4m for May, a 6.9% increase on last year's $166.0m. Comparable store sales were up 5.8% for the month. For May, the strongest categories at Saks Fifth Avenue stores were women's apparel, shoes, handbags, and accessories and men's tailored clothing and accessories.
For Stage Stores Inc, the month of May brought a 0.6% drop in total sales, slipping to $116m from $117m in the prior year period. Comparable store sales fell 2.9% this year versus a decrease of 7.2% last year. Footwear, swimwear, children's, junior's, men's and young men's were among the best performing categories at the company's Bealls, Goody's, Palais Royal, Peebles and Stage stores.
Stein Mart Inc saw total sales fall 6.3% in May to $98.7m, down from $105.3m last time. Same-store sales were down 4.5%. For May, ladies' dresses and Boutique saw positive comparable stores' sales, while casual sportswear had much weaker trends.
Net retail sales at Target Corporation rose 3.7% to $4.6bn, up from $4.46bn a year earlier. May comparable-store sales increased 1.3%, but came in "somewhat below our expectation," the company said. Target operates 1,740 stores.
At The TJX Companies Inc, May sales were $1.6bn, up 8% over the $1.5bn achieved a year earlier. Comparable store sales beat expectations with a rise of 4%. Sales picked up "substantially" in the second half of the month as the weather turned warmer, the company said.
The Wet Seal Inc said May comparable store sales results were within its expectations after they fell 5.3%, with a drop of 4.6% at Wet Seal and a 7.8% decline at Arden B. Total sales were down 4.3% to $40.2m.
Unfavorable weather and a pause after strong buying by shoppers earlier in the year, were blamed.
Zumiez Inc has posted a 12.1% rise in sales to $26.3m for the four weeks to
May 29, up from $23.5m in the same period last year. The company, which operates 384 stores, said its same-store sales increased 7.1% - against a drop of 20.7% a year ago.
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