CHINA OPENS DOORS TO RETAIL: After wavering on the issue for several months, China’s government finally set a date — Dec. 11 — to ease restrictions on foreign investors of the country’s retail sector, the China Securities Journal reported. Easing these restrictions would bring China into full compliance with the open-market commitments it made to the WTO, the state-run newspaper said. The plans were made by Zhang Zhigang, a vice minister of commerce. China’s retail sector includes a limited number of foreign brands. During the past few years, retailers such as Wal-Mart have worked hard to penetrate and expand in the market. The easing of restrictions follows a petition against China made by the AFL-CIO to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative earlier this week. The filing alleges that China represses workers’ rights.

GEN ART GEMS: The West Coast chapter of Gen Art announced Wednesday its lineup for fashion week here at month’s end, as well as a new approach to its showcase. “The New Garde” on March 29 will present Madley, a three-year-old knitwear line designed by Central St. Martins grad Coryn Madley that sells to Fred Segal; the reconstructed vintage fur-trimmed men’s and women’s wear of Cosa Nostra, a two-year-old line that has been exclusive to Maxfield, and the year-old tailored minimalism of Society for Rational Dress, picked up so far by Naked. The event takes place 8-11:30 p.m., with live modeling 9-10:30 p.m. Also new is Gen Art’s official participation in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios — although its three designers will show 2 miles away at Ten9Fifty Studios. In an effort not to go against another show, as has happened every season, the nonprofit organization signed on to become an associate member of the program.

RATING SAKS: Saks Inc.’s new debt issue was assigned ratings by both Moody’s Investors Services and Fitch Ratings on Wednesday. The proposed issue of $200 million of convertible senior notes due 2024 was assigned a rating of “Ba3” with a stable outlook by Moody’s, while Fitch gave it a “BB minus” with a negative outlook. The ratings followed Saks’ declaration earlier in the week of a $2 special dividend accruing to $284 million to be paid out of surplus cash. In the case of Fitch, the agency said the negative outlook reflects “the more aggressive financial posture by Saks’ management, as well as some uncertainty as to the strength of the current economic recovery.” Moody’s said its stable outlook is based on “the expectation that Saks will manage its debt levels so that the impact to its leverage ratio will be neutral, and that it will continue to maintain adequate liquidity to finance working capital and capital expenditures.” In conjunction with the new assignment, Moody’s also affirmed Saks’ existing debt ratings.NEIMAN’S GOES HIP: Neiman Marcus is staging a three-day fashion and beauty blitz starting today called The Hip Event. Designed to highlight the hottest spring styles for women and men at Neiman’s 35 stores, The Hip Event runs through Saturday and includes in-store designer appearances, live music, DJs and in-store events that vary by location.

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