BEBE BATTERED: Bebe Stores Inc. on Tuesday said that preliminary February same-store sales were down 15.2 percent and as a result, the specialty retailer now expects comparable-store sales for the first quarter to decrease in the low- to midteens. In a statement, John Kyees, chief financial officer of the Brisbane, Calif.-based teen and contemporary specialty retailer, attributed the weak performance to insufficient inventory in the casual portion of the sportswear category. Moreover, Kyees said Bebe’s traditional customer has "rediscovered Bebe at a slower rate than expected." With the February results, Bebe’s comps have fallen for 16 consecutive months.

RWANDA GETS A BREAK: Rwanda has joined 18 other sub-Saharan African nations eligible for apparel and textile quota and duty breaks. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative formally extended the duty- and quota-free trade breaks to Rwanda under a trade measure enacted in 2000 covering sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean Basin. In addition, Rwanda was designated a Lesser Developed Country, which allows it to use fabric from anywhere in the world until Sept. 30, 2004.

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