• SYMS LOSS NARROWS: Improved gross margins and a onetime real estate gain helped off-pricer Syms Corp. reduce its second-quarter losses. In the three months ended Aug. 30, the Secaucus, N.J.-based retailer had a net loss of $1.3 million, or 9 cents a share, versus a loss of $1.4 million, or 10 cents, in the 2007 period. Sales declined 3.8 percent, to $59 million from $61.4 million, and dropped 2.5 percent on a same-store basis. However, gross margin increased to 39.2 percent of sales in the most recent quarter, versus 36.7 percent in the year-ago period. The loss in the 2008 quarter was reduced by a $548,000 pretax gain on the sale of a parcel of land. In the first half of the fiscal year, the net loss dropped to $669,000, or 5 cents a share, from $748,000, also 5 cents. Sales fell 3.8 percent, to $123.6 million, and dipped 2.4 percent on a comparable-store basis.

This story first appeared in the September 30, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


• SENTENCED ON TAX EVASION: A federal judge in Manhattan last week sentenced a former sewing company owner to four years probation for payroll and income tax violations. Kevin Weng, 37, who owned the Manhattan-based stitch firm Maple Corp., pleaded guilty in June to evading over $324,000 in taxes from 2003 to 2006. In entering his guilty plea, Weng admitted to paying employees at the now-shuttered Maple more than $2.1 million off the books. According to testimony, Weng compensated his workers in cash so they could receive welfare and health benefits from public sources. Judge Denny Chin ordered Weng to serve four years probation, including one year of home confinement, and to pay $124,151.36 in evaded taxes. He had already paid back $200,000 prior to his sentencing. “Under the circumstances it was a very fair sentence,” said Ian Redpath, Weng’s attorney. “But the judge made it clear that this type of activity has to cease in the garment district.”


• HANESBRANDS BOARD MOVES: Ann Ziegler, senior vice president and chief financial officer of CDW Corp. and a former cfo of several Sara Lee Corp. divisions, has been elected to the board of Hanesbrands Inc., filling a vacancy created by the retirement of Charles Coker. Additionally, J. Patrick Mulcahy, a director since Hanesbrands’ 2006 spin-off from Sara Lee, has been named to the new board position of lead director. The changes are effective Dec. 8. Richard Noll, president and chief executive officer of Hanesbrands, will assume the additional title of chairman upon Lee Chaden’s retirement on Jan. 1. Chaden and Noll continue as directors. After the transition, Hanesbrands will continue to have 10 directors, seven of them classified as independent. The nonindependents are Chaden, Noll and, because of her previous affiliation with Sara Lee, Ziegler.


• NUXE INVESTOR: Private French skin care brand Nuxe has sold a “small minority interest” to Naxicap Partners, part of private equity firm Natexis, the beauty company said Monday. The cash injection will be used to develop Nuxe’s domestic and international businesses, the firm added. The deal comes as Nuxe prepares to open a spa, the brand’s fifth, in Paris’ Hôtel Zébra Square.