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In Brief: Good Gains at Gus … Spiegel Shrinks …

<b><ul><li>GOOD GAINS AT GUS:</b> Great Universal Stores plc, the retail and services group and Burberry’s parent company, posted sales growth in all of its divisions for the first quarter ended June 30. GUS said in a trading statement this week...

  • GOOD GAINS AT GUS: Great Universal Stores plc, the retail and services group and Burberry’s parent company, posted sales growth in all of its divisions for the first quarter ended June 30. GUS said in a trading statement this week that sales at Argos, its general home merchandise business, climbed 14 percent while those at Homebase, the home furnishings and gardening store, rose 5 percent. At Experian North America, a credit profiling and information company, sales rose 4 percent while at Experian International, they rocketed 11 percent thanks chiefly to acquisitions, outstanding interests and vigorous U.K. business in the quarter. As reported, Burberry — of which GUS holds a 77 percent stake — saw sales rise 18 percent in the period, 22 percent at constant exchange rates. “We believe that GUS is in good shape to continue to deliver growth going forward, although perhaps not at the rate of the first quarter,” said John Peace, GUS chief executive. The firm didn’t provide revenue figures. Results for the first half, which ends Sept. 30, are expected on Nov. 20.

  • SPIEGEL SHRINKS: Bankrupt Spiegel Group Inc. on Thursday said it will lay off approximately 680 employees as part of a consolidation of its customer contact and order fulfillment operations. The Eddie Bauer parent will shutter its Rapid City, S.D.-based customer contact center, with about 240 employees, and an order fulfillment operation in Newport News, Va., that employs approximately 400 associates. Both facilities are slated to close at the end of December. Additionally, the Downers Grove, Ill.-based company will move a retail distribution operation to Groveport, Ohio, from neighboring Columbus. Although most associates there are expected to transfer to the new facility, Spiegel said approximately 40 employees will be let go in September. Services provided by the closed operations will be shifted to other company facilities, the firm said.