STEPPING INSIDE: Gianfranco Ferré SpA is taking footwear in-house and beefing up its design department under new creative director Lars Nilsson. The Italian fashion house said it has agreed by mutual consent to terminate its license with Vicini SpA for the production and distribution of Gianfranco Ferré footwear six months early in spring 2008 and create a division devoted exclusively to shoes and accessories. The decision ties in with Nilsson's first collection for the brand, scheduled for fall 2008. IT Holding SpA, which owns Gianfranco Ferré, will handle logistics. "With this decision, we are bringing in-house the products representing the greatest potential for the company's growth," Gianfranco Ferré chief executive Michela Piva said.
FREE TRADING WITH PERU: President Bush signed the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Friday that provides permanent duty free treatment for apparel imports from the Andean country. Peru was enjoying duty free status under another program that was set to expire. With those benefits locked in, Peruvian exporters, who shipped $845.1 million worth of apparel to the U.S. for the year ended Oct. 31, will now have a more predictable business environment.
SEARS' OFFICIAL BID: Sears Holdings Corp. said Friday that it submitted a draft acquisition agreement to Restoration Hardware Inc. that offers to pay stockholders $6.75 a share in cash through a tender offer, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The specialty home goods retailer declared Sears an "excluded party" under terms of a prior acquisition deal with Catterton Partners. The move allows negotiations between Sears and Restoration Hardware to proceed. Catterton Partners' offer is for $6.70 a share, which was made in early November. Sears previously made an unofficial bid for the specialty retailer.