WHITE HOUSE ON TEXTILES: The Bush administration unveiled its second textile report to Capitol Hill lawmakers late Tuesday in an effort to show it has made some progress to improve conditions in the beleaguered textile industry, but the report is already drawing fire from the very industry it purports to help. The 20-page report touts a controversial bilateral textile agreement with Vietnam, the creation of a procedural framework for potential safeguard actions against China, “tough” rules of origin in trade pacts, aggressive enforcement against illegal textile transshipments, including $160 million of seized apparel from China, and the insistence of reciprocal market access in all trade agreements. The interagency task force, known as the Textile Working Group, has been working to fulfill pledges made to GOP lawmakers who voted for trade promotion authority. Critics claim, however, that the focus on the textile industry is an election-year ploy.

ANN’S LOGIC: ProfitLogic, whose suite of “merchandise optimization” software solutions aims to help retailers raise margins and make more profitable decisions, said Ann Taylor Stores Corp. will use ProfitLogic Price, a markdown optimization solution, for its Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft divisions. “The knowledge provided through the markdown optimization module will help us improve our gross margins,” Bud Wagner, senior vice president of information services at Ann Taylor, said in a statement. He also noted that ProfitLogic has an accelerated implementation road map. Tom Ebling, chairman and chief executive of ProfitLogic, stated that Ann Taylor will have a system that will scale to accommodate its growth. The suite is focused around four central merchandising processes: assortment planning, allocating, pricing and promoting.

GENERAL GROWTH GROWS: General Growth Properties, the nation’s second largest mall developer, has purchased Sikes Senter in Wichita Falls, Tex., and agreed to buy The Maine Mall in South Portland, Maine and Glenbrook Square in Fort Wayne, Ind. “These centers are the single dominant regional mall destinations in the markets they serve,” said John Bucksbaum, chief executive officer, General Growth. The total cost of the malls is about $550 million. Sikes Senter has 675,000 square feet, Maine Mall has 1.1 million square feet and Glenbrook Square has 1.2 million square feet.

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