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.
This story first appeared in the March 5, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
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.
WATTS NEXT: J.C. Watts Jr., the retired Oklahoma Congressman who served as chairman of the House Republican Conference, has been elected to another position of leadership, this time a seat on the board of Dillard’s Inc. Since relinquishing his Congressional seat in January, Watts has kept busy running his own consulting company and promoting his book, “What Color is a Conservative? My Life and My Politics.” Dillard’s chief executive William Dillard 2nd said in a statement: “He is a dynamic leader who has a keen understanding of America’s communities and its people —including the people who shop at Dillard’s. J.C. knows our customers, and he knows what it takes to enhance and strengthen a national brand.”
FUSCO RETURNS: After almost a three-year absence from New York, Neapolitan designer Antonio Fusco has reopened a showroom on West 57 Street. Fusco, who had licensed his men’s and women’s lines to the almost-defunct GFT Net, took back control of his collections in 2000 and has since refocused and consolidated his business. Fusco said he hopes to enter about 60 U.S. doors over the next year, in department and specialty stores, and said he expects sales in the U.S. to reach $12 million during the next three to four years. The showroom is the latest step in rebuilding his label. His women’s line is produced in-house. Next up is a fragrance launch, with a women’s scent expected to hit retail this fall and men’s set for 2004.