TOMMY ITALIANO: Tommy Hilfiger Corp.’s European subsidiary, Tommy Hilfiger Europe BV, plans to buy back the rights to manage and distribute its flagship brand in Italy from Fincom SpA next month. “We intend to step up marketing support for the Italian business and expect that Italy can and will be one of the biggest European markets for the company,” said Tommy Hilfiger Europe chief executive officer Fred Gehring. Hilfiger’s overall European business is slated to produce revenues of more than $500 million for the year ended March 31.

DSW TO IPO: DSW Shoe Warehouse is the latest retailer looking to score in the IPO market. Retail Ventures Inc., the parent company of Columbus, Ohio-based DSW, said Monday it would spin off the 175-store chain with an initial public offering, to hit the market sometime in the first half of this year and with a market value of $185 million. The company filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “DSW will use a portion of the proceeds from the IPO to repay intercompany indebtedness owed to RVI,” the company said in a statement. “The amount of the proceeds that RVI receives will depend on market conditions and other factors. RVI believes the proceeds will strengthen its balance sheet and improve debt coverage.” RVI will use the funds generated through the IPO to pay down its $100 million term loan and a portion of its revolving credit. RVI is expected to own a majority of the outstanding common shares of DSW.

CHEROKEE’S ROOTS: Cherokee Inc., the Van Nuys, Calif.-based brand broker, has signed an exclusive licensing deal with Roots, a Canadian apparel firm that operates about 150 branded stores in Canada and six in the U.S. Known for its T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants, as well as a developed leather handbag line, Roots has had a partnership with the Olympic Games and will be outfitting the U.S. team in Terino, Italy, in 2006. Most recently, Cherokee has inked licensing deals with Essence and Latina magazines. In January, the company announced it hired UBS Investment Bank to explore strategic alternatives.

RUSSELL NAMES EXEC: Calvin Johnston has been named chief executive officer at the Russell Athletic division of Russell Corp. The position has been open for the past two years, prior to which it was occupied by Carol Made, said a company spokeswoman. Johnston, who joined Russell in 2000, was most recently president of Russell’s Jerzees Europe division and will begin in his new post on April 1. He will relocate to Atlanta from Scotland and will report to Jon Letzler, president and chief operating officer of Russell Corp.

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