• RANTING ABOUT RAVE: Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has lowered its ratings on mall-based junior and preteen apparel retailer G+G Retail Inc., operator of the Rave and Rave Girl apparel chains. S&P revised downward the New York-based company’s corporate credit rating to “B” with a negative outlook from “B-plus” with a stable outlook, lowered its senior unsecured debt rating to “B” from “B-plus,” and cut the firm’s bank loan rating to “BB-minus” from “BB.” S&P said the move “reflects G+G’s weak operating performance through the first half of 2003, deteriorating cash flow protection measures and S&P’s expectations that the company will be challenged to improve results due to the difficult retail environment and intense competition in the teen apparel segment.” G+G has more than 500 units and endured a same-store sales decline of 13.8 percent during the first half of the year. As of Aug. 2, G+G had $105 million of funded debt on its balance sheet and liquidity remains adequate, S&P said.

  • BRIGHTER SPIN: The Italian fashion industry expects sales for 2003 to drop 1.5 percent, but that’s not deterringMario Boselli from predicting brighter skies ahead. “At the end of a two-year crisis, the year 2004 will be very good [for the Italian fashion industry],” said Boselli, president of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, at a news conference on Tuesday. He said orders in the second part of this year were “generally very promising” and business was helped by a stabilization of the dollar. Boselli said although Italian fashion saw sales pick up in the third quarter, it did not compensate for losses in the first part of the year. Sales for 2003 are expected to come in at $79.5 billion, or 70 billion euros, converted at current exchange.

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