FEDERATED’S FALL: Citing weak sales, Standard & Poor’s revised downward —to "negative" from "stable" — its outlook on Federated Department Stores Inc.’s debt. Still, the retailer’s corporate credit rating was reaffirmed at BBB-plus. S&P’s lowest investment grade, above "junk" status, is BBB-minus. S&P analyst Gerald Hirschberg, in a statement, said the change "was based on a continuation of disappointing sales," as well as "expectations that these negative trends may not reverse soon." Federated has indicated that its comparable-store sales for the first two weeks of August were "very disappointing." The firm has also reduced comp expectations for the fall to a 1 to 3 percent increase — down from the 3 to 3.5 percent uptick previously anticipated.

RUSSELL MOVES IN: The Russell Corp. has acquired Moving Comfort, a $10 million Chantilly, Va.-based activewear maker that caters to female runners, for undisclosed terms. Founders Ellen Wessell and Elizabeth Goeke will remain with the company as president and executive vice president, respectively. Moving Comfort will continue to be based at its Chantilly headquarters at least through 2003, a Russell spokeswoman said. The Atlanta-based Russell plans to keep scouting brands that suit its portfolio, which includes Russell, Jerzees, Mossy Oak, Cross Creek and Discus.

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