– HOUSE OKS FARM BILL: The House passed a $300 billion compromise farm bill on Wednesday that could potentially help retailers and apparel brands save millions of dollars in additional duties, extend benefits to apparel companies making clothing in the Caribbean, expand trade benefits to Haiti and give some financial support to U.S. textile producers using U.S. or imported cotton. The legislation next goes to the Senate for a vote, but it faces a veto threat from President Bush, who has argued that it contains too many subsidies for wealthy farmers. The House vote was 318-106, which is more than the two-thirds needed for an override if the President vetoes the bill.
– POLO DEPARTURE: Eileen Sullivan, a senior vice president of design at the Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., has left the company. Since joining in 1987, Sullivan held various design jobs at Polo, including senior design director in women’s design, and vice president of Ralph Lauren Polo Sport. More recently, she was designing children’s wear for American Living, the exclusive J.C. Penney brand developed by Polo’s Global Brand Concepts division.
– NOT FOR SALE: Escada’s major shareholder and Finartis chairman Rustam Aksenenko denied German press reports that he is considering selling his stake in the German fashion house. “We did not negotiate and are not negotiating a sale of our participation in Escada,” Aksenenko said in a statement. “We believe in the potential of the brand.” Rumors have been circulating of a possible interest in Escada by Tchibo Holding and MaxInvest co-owner Michael Herz, and according to a new report this week, the Indian steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal via the Swiss bank UBS. While Aksenenko said he welcomed outside interest in the company, he added, “The recent rumors have not been helpful in keeping the company focused on the operations challenges of maintaining and building a world-class brand.” Finartis’ FCMH Fund LP owns 24.8 percent of Escada, and Aksenenko privately owns an additional 1.4 percent for a total of 26.2 percent.