WAVING THE FLAG: Tommy Hilfiger is charging ahead in Spain. Its first flagship — and third Spanish store — opened in Barcelona late last month. The two-level location on Paseo de Gracia, considered the Catalan capital’s “golden mile” of retail, spans 5,700 square feet. It carries a full range of Hilfiger’s women’s, men’s and children’s wear, accessories, fragrance and denim. A live DJ plays in the jeans department every Saturday night. In May, Hilfiger rolled out its first Spanish unit in Madrid’s Xanadu leisure-retail complex and two weeks later, a second store opened in Marbella on the Costa del Sol. No more Spanish stores are planned this year, according to a spokeswoman, but she hinted at the possibility of a Madrid flagship in 2004. — Barbara Barker

BENELUX REDUX: In an ongoing bid to stem losses, the U.K. fashion and home furnishings company Laura Ashley Holdings plc said it would sell its operations in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands to Laben Holding BV for about $2.20, a token amount converted from the euro at current exchange. A statement said Laben would enter a single, renewable franchise agreement with Laura Ashley for the 11 stores in the three countries. For the year ended Jan. 25, the businesses being disposed of posted a turnover of $10.7 million and a pretax loss of $3.5 million, converted from the British pound at current exchange. Since January, the group has closed 33 stores. Four of Laura Ashley’s six French stores are expected to close by November, while the remaining two will be sold to franchise partners. The company also said it was in negotiations to sell six stores in Switzerland, Austria and Italy to EDMI Holdings SA. Those stores will also be converted into franchises. — Samantha Conti

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