ONE OUT, ONE IN: Robert S. Singer, who has served as chief financial officer of Gucci Group since 1995, was named president and chief operating officer of Abercrombie & Fitch succeeding Seth R. Johnson, a 12-year Abercrombie & Fitch veteran, who will be retiring from his position as executive vice president and coo on June 18. Johnson, 50, joined the company as its cfo in 1992, overseeing the company’s 1996 initial public offering and the 1998 spin-off from Limited Brands before being promoted to chief operating officer in February 2000.

THE NARROWING GAP: Gap Inc. took another step toward fiscal fitness Tuesday when Moody’s Investors Service raised its outlook to “positive” from “stable” and upgraded several categories of debt ratings a notch closer to investment grade. In moves that could lower financing expenses for the San Francisco-based specialty store operator, the senior implied credit rating was raised to “Ba1,” one notch below investment grade, from “Ba2” and the senior unsecured debt was elevated to “Ba2” from “Ba3” after a three-month review.

EDDIE’S FALLING COMPS: For the three months ended March 29, retail sales at Eddie Bauer fell by 21 percent due mostly to the closure of 100 Bauer stores, while comparable store sales fell 2.3 percent. The dip in comps, according to bankrupt parent Spiegel Inc.’s quarterly report with the Securities and Exchange Commission, was due mostly to weak customer response to men’s apparel and home product merchandise. However, the weak demand was partially offset by “strong customer demand for the women’s apparel offering.” Overall, Spiegel narrowed its loss in the quarter to $100.5 million, or 76 cents a share, from $114.2 million, or 87 cents, in the year-ago quarter. Sales fell by 25.9 percent to $264.4 million from $356.7 million. Including other sources of income, such as royalties in connection with the Bauer name and amounts billed to customers for shipping and handling on catalogue and online orders, total revenues declined by 26.2 percent to $289.4 million from $391.9 million.

NAUTICA SETS SAIL: Nautica International has signed on as the official apparel supplier of U.S. Sailing, the national governing body of the sport. Under the terms of the agreement, Nautica will outfit the 130 members of the U.S. sailing team, the U.S. disabled sailing team and the U.S. youth world team with apparel for men and women. “Sailing has always been one of my favorite things,” said David Chu, Nautica’s founder, designer and chief executive officer on Tuesday at the New York Yacht Club, where he was joined by members of the U.S. sailing team who are headed to Athens for the Summer Games. “And the designs of Nautica have always been inspired by the sea.”

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