• SAKS’ PASS: Saks Inc. on Thursday said that it notified distressed FAO Inc. that it was not interested in buying FAO or any of its assets. As reported, the Saks department store group operates FAO Schwarz toy shops in its many stores. Following FAO’s announcement on Monday that it would file a Chapter 11 petition this week to wind up operations, Saks was frequently mentioned as a possible buyer of the FAO nameplate to effect a recovery on its minority equity position in the financially stressed chain. FAO filed Thursday in Delaware, and it is likely that Saks’ FAO equity stake will become worthless. In the meantime FAO is trying to seek a buyer by Dec. 15 to stave off a liquidation of all operations. Even if FAO finds a buyer, Saks would likely have to renegotiate terms with the new buyer if it wants to continue having FAO shops in its stores, according to industry consultants. Meanwhile, FAO hired a joint venture consortium — Buxbaum Group, SB Capital Group and Tiger Capital Group — to conduct inventory clearance sales in FAO freestanding stores during the holiday period. Shops operating within the Saks department store group will not participate in the clearance sales.

  • WINSTON CARRIES ON: As it prepares to be acquired by Aber Diamond Corp., Harry Winston is keeping busy. The luxury jeweler on Thursday said it is opening a small salon in Dallas next week in Rosewood’s Hotel Crescent Court, and also disclosed that it has opened a 300-square-foot in-store shop for watches at the Hellenis Timeless Jewelry boutique in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The private selling space at the Rosewood is by appointment only. It will be secluded behind an unmarked door and will not carry much inventory, said a Harry Winston spokeswoman. The salon is something of a return for Harry Winston, which 50 years ago had a full-time sales person in Dallas who sold to high-end clients there, the spokeswoman said. The new watch shop, meanwhile, is operated by Hellenis and will showcase men’s and women’s watches, including diamond pieces. Harry Winston watches are sold in about 40 fine jewelry stores in the U.S. as well as in Harry Winston salons.
  • AUSTIN IN OPERATIONS: Kellwood Co. has appointed Tom Austin president of its operating services division, handing him responsibility for the firm’s overall sourcing, logistics and related compliance strategies. Austin, who reports to executive vice president and chief financial officer W. Lee Capps 3rd, was vice president of operations, manufacturing and distribution for the Bestform Intimates division of VF Corp. Kellwood also named David Falwell director of strategic sourcing. He reports to Austin and had been executive vice president of Kellwood New England.

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