STRIKE FOUR: It’s been a tough spring for department stores in Paris, slammed by a drop in global tourism, the outbreak of SARS and the surging euro. In May, stores also had to face snarled traffic because of widespread transport strikes, which kept many shoppers at home. Sales dropped about 10 percent for the month, according to Paris’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It follows a 7.3 percent drop in Paris department store sales in April, according to the Chamber. Galeries Lafayette, for its part, said sales in its flagship Boulevard Haussmann store have slid 13 percent through the first four months of the year. Meanwhile, labor disputes over pension reform still rage in the French capital, further disrupting sales so far in June. — Robert Murphy

LEARNING LUXURY: Compagnie Financière Richemont plans to start up its own school in Milan. Starting next year, the Richemont Creative Academy will offer courses in areas like design, product development and communications. “Richemont has perceived a need to nurture and develop creativity and new talent in the industry,” the company said in a statement. Faculty will come from the academic and professional worlds, and the classes with be held in English to better attract an international student body of college or specialty school graduates. — Amanda Kaiser

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