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In Brief: Polo’s Outlook … Summer Heat … Sephora’s Canadian Unit

<B>POLO’S OUTLOOK:</B> Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services on Tuesday revised its outlook on Polo Ralph Lauren to stable from negative and affirmed the “BBB” corporate credit and unsecured debt ratings of the fashion firm....

POLO’S OUTLOOK: Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services on Tuesday revised its outlook on Polo Ralph Lauren to stable from negative and affirmed the “BBB” corporate credit and unsecured debt ratings of the fashion firm. Analyst Susan Ding wrote in her report, “The outlook revision follows S&P’s review of the company and reflects Polo’s strong business position, as well as the expectation that the company’s financial measures will continue to improve.” She noted the company was able to quickly produce the spring 2004 Lauren line after regaining the license in a dispute with Jones Apparel Group. The spat between the two apparel firms over the Lauren license resulted in a $550 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against Polo, which isn’t expected to go to trial until next year.

SUMMER HEAT: Maintaining double-digit momentum this summer after an uneven spring, Swedish fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz said Tuesday its year-over-year July sales advanced 14 percent, excluding the impact of currency exchange. Sales in June were up 15 percent. Earlier in the year, H&M had blamed lower prices for what it called inadequate increases. The firm reports its nine-month results Sept. 30.

SEPHORA’S CANADIAN UNIT: Buoyed by brisk online sales in Canada, Sephora is Toronto-bound, and plans an early-November opening in the city’s Eaton Centre shopping complex. The 5,100-square-foot space will mark Sephora’s first Canadian door, and will open a year after the company began selling to Canadians through its Web site. “We got seriously interested in Toronto last fall. We spent two or three days in the market and just fell in love with it,” said David Suliteanu, Sephora’s president and chief executive officer of North American operations, adding that the company is very close to signing for a second Toronto store. “Based on our research, once we’ve developed it, Toronto could be in the top three of our North American markets.” The product mix will follow Sephora’s standard approach, Suliteanu said, while adding a few local touches, spotlighting Canadian brands like Cargo and Dessert and becoming the first North American Sephora to carry Biotherm, which is said to be extremely popular in Canada. Suliteanu added that Toronto is just the beginning, and he’s looking to open Sephora stores throughout Canada.