– ASDA LOSES GEORGE CHIEF: Angela Spindler, managing director of the George line at Asda, Wal-Mart’s U.K. arm, has abruptly stepped down from her post and quit the company. The retailer said Spindler, a 10-year Asda veteran, had left for “family reasons.” She had replaced Andy Bond, who is now Asda’s president and chief executive, at the end of 2005. Bond temporarily will cover the job until a replacement is found, the company said. Spindler’s departure comes at a pivotal time for the brand. As reported, George will go online early next year, and there are plans in the works for a U.S. relaunch. However, industry sources said Asda is not opening George stores fast enough, and the brand is losing ground to competitors. Over the past year, Asda has lost share of the U.K. clothing market by sales volume. Asda currently has 7.5 percent, compared with Tesco’s 8.6 percent, Primark’s 8.9 percent and Marks & Spencer’s 11.4 percent.
– WAGE WOES FOR ARCADIA: Sir Philip Green, owner of Topshop and its parent, Arcadia, is investigating a report by the Sunday Times of London that one of the group’s knitwear suppliers in Mauritius is engaging in nonethical work practices. The report said Sri Lankan, Indian and Bangladeshi workers on the island were being paid less than $10 a day for up to 12 hours of work, six days a week. The wages, it said, are 40 percent below the island’s average, and are fixed according to race, with the Bangladeshis earning the least. “Arcadia takes exceptionally seriously the code of conduct which all suppliers sign,” an Arcadia statement said Monday. “Serious breaches will not be tolerated and a remedy will be sought [if any] have occurred.”
– TAKING CHINA TO THE WTO: Following through on its trade case against China, the U.S. asked the World Trade Organization to establish a dispute settlement panel to examine China’s policies for the protection of intellectual property rights. The U.S. brought the case against China in April and the two countries met to discuss the issue in early June, but were unable to come to an accord. The U.S. maintains that China doesn’t do enough to protect intellectual property. For instance, Chinese criminal law has a threshold, whereby people are not prosecuted until they are caught with a certain number of pirated goods.