CLAIRE'S NET DIPS: Claire's Stores Inc. reported a 3.1 percent decline in first quarter earnings to $28.8 million for the period ended May 5, from $29.7 million for the same period last year, as sales grew 9.2 percent to $340.6 million from $311.9 million. Sales increased due to growth of new stores, particularly in Europe, combined with increased same-store sales and foreign currency translation gains. Claire's also pointed to strong accessories sales in the market as a growth driver for the company and said merchandise margins increased despite some softness of jewelry sales. Comparable store sales for the quarter increased 1.3 percent. The company said the first quarter was impacted by acquisition-related activities and costs in addition to other nonrecurring expenses. Claire's was acquired on May 29 by Apollo Management LP and affiliated investment partnerships.

BETSEY JOHNSON BRAND CHANGES HANDS: Beauty Management Group has been appointed as the sales and marketing agent for the Betsey Johnson fragrance business in North America. Netherlands-based Colorful Licenses BV, which holds the license for the Betsey Johnson fragrance, said Friday that the New Jersey-based company will succeed the Karis Group, which formerly handled the Colorful licenses. In addition to the Betsey Johnson business, BMG will handle Monique Lhuillier's scent when it is introduced in the fall.

MAXMARA'S WEST COAST PUSH: MaxMara USA said last week that it will move its Rodeo Drive boutique in Beverly Hills to a 4,000-square-foot flagship in the 400 block that will open in early 2008. Marina Rinaldi, MaxMara's plus-size retail division, will also relocate its Rodeo Drive store to Wilshire Boulevard between Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. In addition, the MaxMara boutique on San Francisco's Post Street will get a facelift in the second half of 2008 that will increase its size to 3,850 square feet. Brand ambassador Nicola Maramotti also confirmed that the company is hunting for a space on Melrose Avenue or Robertson Boulevard to house its Max&Co. brand.

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