ACTION AGAINST SEARS: A securities class action has begun on behalf of shareholders who acquired Sears, Roebuck & Co. securities between Jan. 17, 2002 and Oct. 17, 2002. The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, against defendants Sears, Alan Lacy, chief executive officer; Glenn Richter, chief financial officer, Paul Liska, former chief financial officer, and Thomas E. Bergmann, chief accounting officer. The action charges that defendants violated federal securities laws by issuing a series of materially false and misleading statements to the market throughout the class period.

CREDIT REPORT: Is retail giant Pinault-Printemps-Redoute about to shed its financial services arm, Finaref? Speculation heated up over the weekend in Europe that PPR may sell the affiliate, possibly to Credit Agricole. Finaref comprises credit card operations for PPR’s Printemps, Fnac, Conforama and Redoute activities. PPR has been under pressure to reduce its business-to-business activities in favor of retail and luxury, which boast higher profit margins. In August, it sold the mail-order subsidiary of Guilbert to Staples Inc. for $808 million. PPR reports its third-quarter sales on Tuesday.

PROTESTS AT HATHAWAY: The AFL-CIO organized a rally Saturday at C.F. Hathaway’s Waterville, Maine manufacturing plant, which was shuttered on Friday. The closing of the plant, which has been making Hathaway shirts for 165 years, will result in 235 lost jobs. Protesters blamed the closing on the North American Free Trade Agreement and overseas competition. Hathaway’s owner, Windsong Allegiance Apparel Group of Westport, Ct. said Hathaway couldn’t get enough orders because overseas factories were willing to produce shirts cheaper. It plans to produce the shirts overseas. Neither the AFL-CIO nor Windsong officials were available for comment Sunday.

TWO MORE JOIN SUIT AGAINST POLO: Two onetime Polo store sales associates, Janika Goff and Troy Greene, joined a class-action lawsuit against Polo Ralph Lauren last week alleging that image, was, in part, crafted illegally, by forcing salespeople to spend thousands of dollars a year on the company’s latest outfits to project a "lifestyle image." The complaint against Polo was initially filed in federal court last month in San Francisco by Toni Young, a 31-year-old sales associate, as reported. Attorneys for Polo have until Nov. 4 to respond to the complaint. A Polo spokeswoman couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.

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