IN RECEIVERSHIP: Galerías Preciados, Spain's second largest department store group, has filed for receivership, with debts totaling $486.9 million (64.3 billion pesetas). Receivership is similar to Chapter 11 proceedings in the U.S. Galerías said it made the filing to protect jobs. The 29-store chain has more than 7,500 employees, and sales volume this year is expected to be about $568 million (75 billion pesetas). The company's financial problems are the latest in a string of difficulties it has experienced over the last 15 years. Galerías was part of the Rumasa holdings of financier José Maria Ruiz Mateos between 1981 and 1983 and was bought by the Cisneros group of Venezuela a year later after Rumasa was expropriated by the Spanish government. Mountleigh, a British property development firm, bought the retailer in 1987. Galerías officials said in September that the company would not survive unless it could refinance its debt and get a capital injection from new investors. Marks & Spencer PLC, which operates five stores in Spain in a joint venture with Cortefiel, is in talks with Galerías about buying some of its sites.
COUTURE SHUFFLE: Claudia Niedzielski has joined Hanae Mori as director of haute couture. Niedzielski succeeds Caroline Grouvel, who will cross the Avenue Montaigne to join Christian Dior as couture director. Grouvel succeeds Annick de Cizancourt, who is retiring. Niedzielski previously spent five years at Guy Laroche. Prior to that, she spent 10 years at Dior working with Marc Bohan.
UNRAVELED: Artwork Apparel Ltd., one of Britain's prominent designer knitwear companies, has gone into receivership. The company, known for its elaborate Artwork line as well as its GeoTrowark denim blue collection, said it had to borrow heavily in recent years to finance expansion, but was hit by a failure of suppliers to deliver on time and a flood of cheap knockoffs that hurt its growth. The firm has financing to deliver its spring-summer 1995 collection, and plans to show a fall-winter 1995 line in late January. The company is also in talks about long-term financing, which include consulting to Coast Viyelleplc and Dewhirst Lorien, a toiletries firm.
COLUMBIA'S SKI TRIP: The Columbia Sportswear Co. opened its first freestanding store in Europe in the French ski town of Val d'Isère. The 1,100-square-foot space was opened through a joint venture with a local sporting goods retailer. "We don't want to retail our own product. That's not our trade," said Jean-Marc Niwinski, the managing director of Columbia's French subsidiary, also responsible for European strategy. Columbia hopes to open similar stores in other French ski towns like Chamonix or Meribel in the future. Store corners are also a priority, and one of the first will open in Paris's Galeries Lafayette next spring. Columbia started selling in France this fall and boasts more than 600 sales points. The brand is also sold in the Benelux markets, Denmark and Germany, where a new subsidiary just opened. Wholesale volume for the current season and spring 1995 is roughly $18 million (100 million francs), a third of that from France.GULF, ANYONE? Christian Dior has opened three franchised boutiques on the Persian Gulf, in partnership with the Saudi Arabian conglomerate Mawarid. Dior's managing director Francois Baufume opened the franchise stores earlier this week. Two are located in Saudi Arabia, on Thalateen Street in Riyadh, and in the Alkhayat commercial center in Jeddah. The third is in Dubai's Burjuman Center. The shops sell men's and women's ready-to-wear, accessories, Baby Dior and Dior's tabletop and gift lines.
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