• LEVI’S EURO SIGNATURE: Levi Strauss & Co. is solidifying distribution plans in Europe for its nascent mass-market brand, Signature, which has already bowed in the U.S. in Wal-Mart stores. On Thursday, Levi’s said Carrefour hypermarkets would distribute Signature in France beginning Jan. 15. Deals are already inked in the U.K. with Asda/Wal-Mart and in Germany with Wal-Mart, Woolworth and Ratio. Carrefour, the world’s second-largest retailer after Wal-Mart, operates 193 units in France. Signature, which will retail for about $40 for a pair of jeans and $14 for a T-shirt, is part of Levi’s strategy to shore up its business in Europe, where value channels account for 15 to 20 percent of the total market. Levi’s said it was talking to other retailers in Europe about carryingSignature beginning fall 2005.

  • A GOOD CAUSE: The American-Italian Cancer Foundation is hosting its annual benefit gala at The Pierre Hotel on Monday. This year’s event is chaired by Claudio Del Vecchio, president and chief executive officer of Retail Brand Alliance, and Paolo Scaroni, ceo of Rome-based utility firm Enel SpA. Anna Bulgari, the foundation’s president and wife of Bulgari vice chairman Nicola Bulgari, will present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Richard Bloch, the co-founder of H & R Block. Del Vecchio will also present Scientific Excellence in Medicine awards to Dr. Steve Rosenberg of the National Cancer Institute and Dr. Andrea Velardi of the University of Perugia School of Medicine in Italy. The night’s host, Yvonne Scio, is expected to be accompanied by her partner, celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito. Also expected to attend are Massimo and Chiara Ferragamo, Veronica Bulgari and Alain Mikli president Philip Olivetti.

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