MORE BAD NEWS: Troubled retailer Marks and Spencer plc said Wednesday its sales slid 3.1 percent in the 14 weeks to July 9, or the first quarter of the fiscal year. In a statement, the retailer said clothing sales were down 9.2 percent, due chiefly to a drop in opening price points aimed at making the store more competitive. However, M&S added that clothing volume growth had been "substantial." Home sales dropped 22.3 percent, while food sales were up 5 percent. "The trading environment continues to be very tough," said M&S chief executive Stuart Rose. "In general merchandise, the figures reflect the significant change in our trading stance compared to this time last year, when our priority was to clear overstocks. This was achieved through deeper markdowns and extended sale periods. This boosted sales figures, but impacted profitability." He added the M&S summer sale starts with 40 percent less stock than last year.

FAST LANE: Adidas-Salomon said it is teaming with Porsche Design Group to produce a high-tech sports apparel brand targeting men. The deal comes shortly after Porsche inked a long-term agreement with Ferragamo for footwear and accessories. Dubbed Porsche Design, the sportswear label being developed with Adidas will offer men's footwear, apparel and hardware for golf, tennis and running, and may expand to other sports categories. The collection is expected to hit select sporting goods retailers and Porsche Design stores in early 2007.

NEIMAN'S SETS DATE: The Neiman Marcus Group Inc. said that its special shareholder meeting to vote on the proposed $5.1 billion acquisition by TPG Advisors III Inc., TPG Advisors IV Inc., Warburg Pincus & Co., Warburg Pincus LLC and Warburg Pincus Partners LLC is scheduled for August 16 at the Marriott Boston Newton Hotel in Newton, Mass. The luxury goods retailer, which filed a preliminary proxy statement last week, said a definitive proxy will be mailed to shareholders sometime this week. In a statement, the company said it "expects to complete the merger during the last calendar quarter of 2005, subject to the adoption of the merger agreement by the company's stockholders and the satisfaction of other closing conditions."BON-TON COMPLETES SALE: The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. said Monday it had completed the sale of its credit card business to HSBC Retail Services on Friday for $316 million in gross proceeds. The York, Pa.-based retailer said on June 21 that HSBC was acquiring Bon-Ton's portfolio of existing private label credit card accounts and outstanding balances. The retailer said proceeds from the sale will be used to repay the $226 million that represents the net amount sold under Bon-Ton's accounts receivable securitization facility. The balance will be used to reduce debt outstanding under its revolving credit facility and for general corporate purposes.

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