PAUL & JOE GOES: The Paul & Joe boutique at 2 Bond Street in New York shuttered its doors Sunday after a year and a half in business. Over the weekend, women’s and men’s merchandise was being cleared out at 75 percent off. "It’s just not the right location for a flagship. It’s a destination block. There’s not a lot of foot traffic down here," said a store spokesman. He added the 1,800-square-foot store was too large, and it hopes to relocate within the year to a different space in SoHo or the West Village. Based in Paris, Paul & Joe operates over 20 stores worldwide, mostly in Japan.

A&G ON TARGET: A&G Group Ltd., the company that controls the Asprey and Garrard brands, said sales in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2002, dipped 23 percent to $54 million from $70 million, due to a difficult trading environment and the results of restructuring. Gianluca Brozzetti, chief executive of A&G Group, said in a statement Friday that sales for fiscal 2003 are in line with projections so far. "We are satisfied with our trading during this very difficult market environment for luxury products. This is even more encouraging because we are at a very early stage of our takeover of the brands, we are trading from smaller temporary stores for Asprey in London and New York, and Garrard’s flagship did not open until September." As reported, Garrard opened a 5,000-square-foot unit on London’s Albemarle Street last year. Asprey’s first two stores will open simultaneously in London and Manhattan nextfall.

TRADE STOPOVER: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick will make a stop in South Africa today to meet with the trade ministers of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland — all members of the Southern African Customs Union — to discuss a road map and timetable for the upcoming negotiations on a bilateral, free-trade agreement, which are slated to begin in February. Following his visit in Pretoria, South Africa, Zoellick will proceed to Mauritius, where he will lead the U.S. delegation to the second U.S./sub-Saharan Africa Trade & Economic Cooperation Forum, which begins its five-day run today.

SAM’S SMALLER SAKS STAKE: Southeastern Asset Management Inc. reduced its Saks Inc. holdings in 2002, ringing in the new year with 20.8 million of the retailer’s shares, or 14.6 percent of its outstanding common stock, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. At the close of 2001, SAM held 27.8 million shares of Saks, or 19.6 percent of the firm. Shares outstanding last year rose 0.7 percent to 142.9 million from 141.9 million in 2001.

TO MARKET, TO MARKET: U.K. companies Marks & Spencer and Mulberryhave both named new directors of marketing. M&S has appointed Alice Avis as director of marketing and e-commerce, succeeding Alan McWalter, who left the company. Avis, who has been running her own strategic marketing consultancy will begin on Jan. 20. Meanwhile, Martin Mason has been named sales and marketing director at the fashion brand Mulberry, a new post. He begins on Feb. 3.

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