NIKE'S BLUE RIBBON: Nike has been quietly developing an upscale men's sportswear label, which is already available for sale on the Nike Web site and will begin rolling out to a handful of stores later this month, including some NikeTown locations. Called Blue Ribbon Sports, the collection features a small group of items such as slouchy jeans, logo T-shirts, woven button-down shirts, blazers, and accessories. On the site, retail prices start at $30 for a hat, and go up to $90 for a woven shirt, and $110 for denim. The name stems from Nike's early days, since the company was first called Blue Ribbon Sports when it was founded in 1962 by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. In 1972, BRS changed its name to Nike, for the Greek winged goddess of victory. The company declined to give too much information about the collection, but a spokeswoman said it was similar to White Label, the fashion-forward sportswear line Nike launched in Europe and brought to the U.S. last year. Those products are more sophisticated and carry higher price points than Nike activewear and are carried in stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue.GILDAN'S PROFIT SOARS: Gildan Activewear Inc. posted a 30.2 percent increase in third-quarter earnings on an 18.1 percent rise in total revenues. The company said Wednesday that net income totaled $34.2 million, or 57 cents a diluted share, ahead of analysts' consensus by a penny, versus $26.2 million, or 44 cents, in the third quarter last year. Sales increased to $198.9 million from $168.4 million a year ago. The Montreal-based company cited growth in unit volume sales, an improved product mix and lower cotton costs for the quarter's performance. Gildan, which manufactures basic activewear for U.S., Canadian and European wholesalers, still expects earnings per share to be $1.37 in fiscal 2005, after certain charges. The company also said it expects to open two facilities during fiscal 2006 at its Rio Nance site in Honduras, one to manufacture existing products and one to produce athletic socks, a new venture for the company, which it sees as a growth opportunity. Total capital expenditures in fiscal 2006 are seen at $105 million.

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