SMELL OF MONEY: Is Bernard Arnault getting back into acquisitions mode — or just doing a little holiday shopping? The LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chairman recently took a 16 percent stake in Lampe Berger, a French company best known for its decorative, odor-eating lamps. Details of the transaction, done via his L Capital investment arm, were not disclosed. Lampe Berger, founded in 1898 by a pharmacist, supplied hospitals 100 years ago. Today, the company makes fancy lamps for home use that resemble oversized perfume bottles and magically dissipate cigarette smoke and odors like cooked cabbage. The firm is expected to have about $69 million in sales this year. The lamps range in price from about $60 into the thousands.
READ THE LABEL: Apparel makers will be granted a one-time exemption from being fined under mandatory garment content and care labeling laws, if a case of mislabeling against them is brought to the Federal Trade Commission’s attention. The FTC’s announcement this week is a policy decision that makes formal a longtime informal practice. Companies caught by the FTC for garment mislabeling could face up to $11,000 in fines for each mislabeled garment. However, as the FTC noted, with 34,000 companies importing and manufacturing more than $17 billion garments for sale in the U.S., “it is not surprising that minor violations regularly occur.” The FTC said its new policy doesn’t mean a retreat from enforceing garment labeling rules and recapped its enforcement record: 31 cases since 1990, nine of which carried penalties ranging from $10,000 to $360,000.
DILLARD’S EXITS: Dillard’s Inc. will close three stores — a 249,000-square-foot store at Bashford Manor in Louisville, Ky., a 96,000-square-foot store at the Louisville Galleria in the same city and a 259,000-square-foot store at Springdale Mall in Mobile, Ala. The company said it will attempt to place workers from the stores in other units in those markets.
AOL CONTENT DEAL: America Online said it will offer exclusive content on its service from various AOL Time Warner divisions, including Time Inc. magazines such as In Style, People, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Real Simple and Teen People. The content, as well as video from CNN, will be offered free to AOL members. The company said the magazines individually may decide to offer their content online for a fee, although the move comes amidst reports of continuing tensions between the new and old media parts of AOL Time Warner as AOL’s difficulties continue to drag down the stock price of the group.