WORK STOPPAGE AVERTED: A tentative agreement was reached over the weekend by the United Auto Workers covering UAW Local 174 members working at the Kmart distribution center in Canton, Mich. Details were not disclosed, pending ratification by members. Local 174 members had been ready to strike last week. Separately, Kmart executives denied published reports that a list of specific store closures exists, and that the number is set at 567 sites. Executives insist that no decisions have been made, and denied there would be that many shut. As reported, real estate sources said last month that South Florida is among the targeted areas. Other targeted areas, those sources said, include Pennsylvania and Texas.MAY CO. SALES SLUMP: The May Department Stores Co. reported lower preliminary net sales and same-store sales in October. For the four weeks ended Nov. 2, the St. Louis-based retailersaid overall sales fell 3.8 percent to $925.5 million from $961.7 million a year ago, as comparable-store sales dropped 7.1 percent. Net sales for the quarter also disappointed, falling 4.1 percent to $3.05 billion from $3.18 billion a year ago. For the first nine months of the year,sales dipped 1.5 percent to $9.3 billion from $9.45 billion in the year-ago period. Based on third-quarter sales, the firm anticipates diluted earnings per share of 8 to 10 cents, excluding a 2-cent charge for the previously announced division combinations and a 2-cent charge for the early redemption of 8 3/8 percent debentures during the quarter.NOT SO GOOD: Goody’s Family Clothing Inc. last week ended negotiations for the previously announced acquisition by a private equity group. According to the retailer, the parties had differing views regarding the effect of the current retail environment on Goody’s earnings. Goody’s and the private equity group, which offered to buy the company for between $6.50 and $7.50 per share, or a premium of 37 to 58 percent, also agreed to terminate the provision in the letter of intent that called for a payment of between $2.5 million and $5 million under certain conditions as expense reimbursement.SAMARITAINE SNARE: Union workers at Paris’ LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned Samaritaine department store planned to strike today against extended Christmas hours. The store, which is in the midst of a major overhaul, plans to stay open the week before Christmas until 9 p.m. Its doors usually close at 7 p.m., except on Thursday and Saturday, when they close at 9 and 8, respectively. Workers claim the extra hours will disrupt their family life. Paris’ other major department stores, including Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps, plan to remain open a half-hour later than usual, until 8, the week before Christmas.

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