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Financo’s Food for Thought

NEW YORK — For an industry recovering from a rough Christmas and filled with uncertainties about the future, there couldn’t be a better respite than the Financo party.<br><br>Held Monday during National Retail Federation convention week,...

NEW YORK — For an industry recovering from a rough Christmas and filled with uncertainties about the future, there couldn’t be a better respite than the Financo party.

Held Monday during National Retail Federation convention week, executives dashed from NRF’s cocktail hour at 21 for another round at the Harmonie Club, where Financo once again drew a power crowd of 250, notably Brad Martin, Joyce Brown, Dave Tracy, Lew Frankfort, Dawn Mello, Arnold Cohen, Jerry Chazen, John and Laura Pomerantz, Bud Konheim and Martha Stewart — 250 for cocktails then about 180 for dinner.

As Financo’s Gil Harrison passed the microphone around the dining room — the tradition for the evening — executives told it like it is, exchanged barbs and simply enjoyed the company of their peers.

Along with some sentimentality came a few cold, hard facts on the state of retailing. “The baby boom generation, those with disposable income, can’t find what they want to wear in the stores,” Josephine Chaus said.

According to George Jones, ceo of the Saks Inc. department store group, the most disappointing part of last Christmas wasn’t even the anemic comp-store results. “It’s the addiction to coupons. It’s not the way to run our business, but it keeps going on. We have to do something to stem that,” though he noted that Saks “ran fewer in 2002 and will run fewer in 2003.”

“We are living in a time when people are saying, ‘I want to win and win big.’ Ninety-nine percent of us don’t,” said Ken Seiff of Bluefly, an off-price website and survivor of the Internet fallout.

Robert Miller said at last year’s dinner, when he spoke about the opportunities for Financo’s restructuring practice, which he heads up: “I was booed off the stage. This past year, it’s been the only growth industry in the U.S.”

“One of the things all of us have to contend with is price deflation,” said William Fung of Li & Fung. “If quotas do come off, we are looking at another 5 to 20 percent decrease in prices. China is the juggernaut at the center of all this. No one is investing in Southeast Asia. Everyone is waiting to see what’s happening in China. They’re getting in the newest machinery. Productivity gains will be incredible.”

NEW YORK — For an industry recovering from a rough Christmas and filled with uncertainties about the future, there couldn’t be a better respite than the Financo party.

Held Monday during National Retail Federation convention week, executives dashed from NRF’s cocktail hour at 21 for another round at the Harmonie Club, where Financo once again drew a power crowd of 250, notably Brad Martin, Joyce Brown, Dave Tracy, Lew Frankfort, Dawn Mello, Arnold Cohen, Jerry Chazen, John and Laura Pomerantz, Bud Konheim and Martha Stewart — 250 for cocktails then about 180 for dinner.

As Financo’s Gil Harrison passed the microphone around the dining room — the tradition for the evening — executives told it like it is, exchanged barbs and simply enjoyed the company of their peers.

Along with some sentimentality came a few cold, hard facts on the state of retailing. “The baby boom generation, those with disposable income, can’t find what they want to wear in the stores,” Josephine Chaus said.

According to George Jones, ceo of the Saks Inc. department store group, the most disappointing part of last Christmas wasn’t even the anemic comp-store results. “It’s the addiction to coupons. It’s not the way to run our business, but it keeps going on. We have to do something to stem that,” though he noted that Saks “ran fewer in 2002 and will run fewer in 2003.”

“We are living in a time when people are saying, ‘I want to win and win big.’ Ninety-nine percent of us don’t,” said Ken Seiff of Bluefly, an off-price website and survivor of the Internet fallout.

Robert Miller said at last year’s dinner, when he spoke about the opportunities for Financo’s restructuring practice, which he heads up: “I was booed off the stage. This past year, it’s been the only growth industry in the U.S.”

“One of the things all of us have to contend with is price deflation,” said William Fung of Li & Fung. “If quotas do come off, we are looking at another 5 to 20 percent decrease in prices. China is the juggernaut at the center of all this. No one is investing in Southeast Asia. Everyone is waiting to see what’s happening in China. They’re getting in the newest machinery. Productivity gains will be incredible.”