WAL-MART LAWSUIT: An Arkansas judge dismissed several of Wal-Mart’s claims against former vice chairman Tom Coughlin, citing agreements Coughlin signed when he resigned in March that released both parties from “any and all liability from claims.” Wal-Mart sued Coughlin to recover retirement benefits and about $500,000 in company funds he allegedly misused. Wal-Mart can still pursue the return of about $400,000 given to Coughlin in April resulting from a benefits calculation error, the judge ruled. In a separate proceeding, a Fort Smith, Ark., grand jury is still investigating Wal-Mart’s allegations that Coughlin perpetrated fraud through a pattern of phony expense reports and misused company gift cards. He has denied the allegations.
HARTMARX PURCHASES: Hartmarx Corp. on Tuesday said it acquired the Simply Blue and Seymour Blue businesses, which design and market women’s denim bottoms and related products. The terms of the transaction include a cash payment at closing of $21 million. Additional contingent amounts would be payable over a five-year period if certain earnings levels are achieved. Simply Blue’s Christopher Blue collection is sold in the better sportswear market, and offers jeans, jackets and capris in denim and other fabrics. Founder and president Mel Matsui and executive vice president Tom Hermann will continue in their respective roles under five-year employment agreements with Hartmarx.
NEW BOSS KEEPS TIME: Advance Group Inc., a producer of watches, pens and clocks, has named Mark E. Lucas as chairman and chief executive officer. Lucas succeeds Jim Clegg, who left the company in June. Most recently, Lucas was president and ceo of Altec Lansing, a producer of interactive audio products. He previously held senior executive positions at Iomega Corp., Gillette and Duracell. New York-based Advance Group produces goods for brands such as Kenneth Cole, Tommy Bahama, Betsey Johnson and Mudd.