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November 15, 2007
Women's Wear Journal
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New Addition to the McPete
Well for many of you who saw me waddling around the Lingerie Americas show
in NYC in August, or who have spoken to me in the past few months -- here is
the news you were waiting for:
Mason Charles Briggs was born on October 24 by c-section. He
weighed 9lbs and was 22-3/4 inches long. The baby and I are both healthy and happy. Mike
and I are enjoying parenthood very much even though we are sleep deprived.
Factory Fire Burns 8000
Bales of Cotton
A cotton ginning factory in Pakistan was gutted at the beginning of November when a fire reduced around 8000 bales of cotton worth US$1.65m to ashes.
The factory, near the near Cantonment area of the Bahawalnagar district, caught fire on Sunday but no loss of life was reported.
The blaze erupted at Rafi cotton industries at around 10am, and firefighters reached the factory within an hour. The blaze was controlled after around two to three hours, but the cause of the fire is still unknown.
A jewelry company in China has made a bra out of more than 2,500 diamonds.
Priced at 10 million yuan (approx US$1.334 Million) and named Perfect, it was demonstrated by a model at the Yibai Department Store in Jinhua city, Zhejiang province.
The maker, Royal Décor Jewelry, says the piece used natural diamonds weighing more than 100 carats. The diamonds are set in 300 grams of white gold.
"The piece took more than 200 hours to create," said a spokesman.
Among the diamonds, 5 are 3 carats, while the rest are mostly 2 or 1 carat.
"The clasp of the bra is a 5.4 carat sapphire surrounded by 60 small diamonds", added the spokesman.
by Lawrence O. Brown
UK Sales Hurt by Mild Weather
UK October's retail sales rose at their slowest rate in nearly a year, according to new figures released, with unseasonably mild weather slowing demand for clothing and footwear.
The British Retail Consortium said total October sales were up just 1% on a like-for-like basis - the weakest since the 0.5% reported in November 2006.
Kevin Hawkins, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said consumer confidence is being hit by interest rate rises, the slowing housing market and financial worries after the banking crisis.
Consumers are more and more cautious about making major purchases, he said, adding: "It points to some challenging trading conditions for many retailers in the run-up to Christmas, which are likely to persist until interest rates are reduced and consumer confidence begins to improve."
Free Trade Pact Between
US & Peru
The US House of Representatives passed the Peru Free Trade Agreement by a vote of 285 to 132 on November 8.
A Senate vote on the deal, which could come in the next several weeks, is now needed for the accord to go into effect.
The trade pact will eliminate duties immediately on some 80% of US industrial exports, allowing US yarn and fabric makers to export their goods (under
'favorable' rule-of-origin rules) to Peruvian manufacturers who will then be able to sell apparel duty free to the US.
Trade between the United States and Peru totaled $8.8bn in 2006.
The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC) expressed disappointment at the vote, with AMTAC executive director Auggie Tantillo describing it as "a continuation of the flawed trade policy model of trade deficits,
off shoring and job losses."
The US is also negotiating FTA deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, but these pacts are unlikely to be agreed this year.
Limited's Plans to Expand
Expansion outside the United States is next up for Limited Brands now
that the Columbus company has narrowed its focus to lingerie and beauty products.
Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and CEO, said it will be a plus to go into the important holiday shopping season without its former apparel stores being
part of the mix.
Earlier this year, Limited Brands sold the majority interest in its Express
and Limited chains, leaving the company primarily focused on its Victoria's
Secret and Bath & Body Works divisions.
"I'm delighted we don't have apparel retail stores and that we are as dominant in the categories we are in," Wexner said.
"Limited Brands is a very different company with a history that should be disconnected from its present into its future," he added.
Wexner said further details about opening Victoria's Secret and Bath &
Body stores overseas would be announced in the first quarter of 2008. Test stores for Bath & Body Works in Canada are planned for early next
The company does not expect to change its product mix for stores in other markets.
Wexner said the timing is right for overseas expansion because both brands are known around the world, with merchandise sold online and in catalogs, while stores are limited to the U.S.
"There is a very mixed and generally negative history of apparel brands moving internationally," Wexner said during the event held at Hilton Columbus at Easton. "But in personal care and beauty, it's almost the opposite.
"The next and new frontier is international."
The company opened Bath & Body Works stores in Europe in the early 1990s, but that effort failed. Officials think expansion can work this time because the chain's product line has become more diverse and
The holiday shopping season has taken on added importance after Limited Brands last week reported weak sales for September, prompting the company to lower its earnings forecast.
The company said it now expects to post earnings ranging from the break-even point to 4 cents per share. In its earlier profit guidance, Limited predicted 4 cents per share, and that's what analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting.
Limited Brands officials expect results to improve as the company moves forward with its new focus, which also includes more store openings, an expansion of the average Victoria's Secret store size and new concepts such as VSX, the Victoria's Secret sportswear line.
"I feel very confident and very much at ease going into this holiday season," Wexner said.
However, one concern lingers: the economy.
"There's a lot going on in the economy we can't control," said Sharen Jester Turney, president and CEO of Victoria's Secret. "But I do believe we have done everything we can control."
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