LEVI’S HIT: Levi Strauss & Co. plans to appeal a $45 million judgment in favor of a former Mexico City contractor wrongly targeted in an anticounterfeiting raid. “We strongly disagree with the court’s decision,” said a spokesman for the San Francisco-based jeans maker. “We don’t believe the size of the request substantiates the facts in the case.” The order from a Mexican federal court exonerates contractor Comexma, which sued the company for harm suffered to its image from a raid at its plant in June 2001. Mexican police were looking for evidence of imitation Levi’s brands based on information provided by Levi’s attorney. The brand-protection attorney set up the sting without getting the required company approvals, Levi’s said. 

EBEL CEO OUT: Randi Shinske, president and chief executive officer of Ebel USA Inc., has left the company. Movado Group, which owns Ebel, has not named a replacement. Ebel sales this year are expected to be $40 million to $45 million, providing major growth for the Paramus, N.J.-based Movado. Movado Group, which bought Ebel from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in December 2003, expects full-year sales for fiscal 2005 to be about $410 million, a 20 percent increase over 2004.

TARRANT’S RAG: Los Angeles-based Tarrant Apparel Group said its subsidiary, Private Brands Inc., extended for seven years its exclusive distribution agreement for American Rag CIE with Macy’s Merchandising Group LLC, the sourcing arm of Federated Department Stores Inc. The original accord signed in 2003 called for a minimum purchase agreement of two years for the casual sportswear collection for juniors’ and young men’s designed and manufactured by Private Brands. The line’s initial rollout to 100 stores will expand to almost 300 Macy’s stores by fall 2005. Macy’s Merchandising Group also acquired a license to design and manufacture directly American Rag CIE nondenim men’s apparel.

EDDIE RODRIGUEZ CLOSING: Men’s Wearhouse is abandoning its experiment to capture the Latino customer. On Wednesday, while reporting fourth-quarter and year-end results, the retailer said it would discontinue the test of the Eddie Rodriguez stores. At the same time, Eddie Rodriguez, who had been designer and creative director of Men’s Wearhouse, will leave the company, George Zimmer, Men’s Wearhouse founder and chairman, said during a conference call. Early last year, the company launched Eddie Rodriguez, a men’s and women’s concept designed to evoke the Havana of 1955. The company had hoped it would eventually grow to a 100-unit chain over the next five years. The test had included six stores around the country. Those stores, the company said Wednesday, will be “wound down over the course of fiscal 2005.”

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