BACK IN BLACK: C&A, Germany’s third largest apparel retailer, has turned the corner. Two years ago, the chain, which operates 185 C&A doors in Germany and 279 elsewhere in Europe, was mired in losses. But a concentration on moderate, value-for-money apparel and a fresh, new, easy-to-shop retail environment seem to have paid off. Net earnings in Germany for the fiscal year ended Feb. 28 tripled to $125 million, and German sales were up 2 percent to about $3.3 billion. Dollar figures are converted from euros at current exchange rates. Once derided as “Cheap & Awful” in Germany by the very youth its trendy ads tried to attract, C&A switched to a more mainstream ad style, upping the German ad budget 10 percent to $117 million. While modernizing the last 40 old-style units, C&A also is expanding its C&A Kids chain, and a C&A Woman concept is being tested in Bremen and Lindau, with three new German doors to follow. — Melissa Drier

ENDANGERED SPECIES: French shoppers on the hunt for great fakes should take heed. The French luxury goods trade association, Comité Colbert, has launched an anticounterfeiting campaign designed to discourage travelers from bringing back bogus watches, handbags and apparel. More than 10,000 posters depicting fake Lacoste, Hermès, Chanel, Dior and Cartier products are going up at 200 customs borders in France. The accompanying text aims to deter shoppers by reminding them that the purchase of counterfeit products is considered a major infraction, contributing to forced child labor and illegal drug and arms trafficking. The posters also underline that importing counterfeit products is punishable by fines of up to $300,000 and up to three years in jail. Five of the top six brands that suffer from forgeries in the European Union are French, according to the Comité Colbert. More than 100 million fakes were confiscated in the E.U. last year, including 1.2 million in France. The campaign is scheduled to last until the end of October. — Emilie Marsh

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