VUITTON NO-GO ON MADISON: Louis Vuitton has abandoned a plan to open on Madison Avenue, at least for the moment. The French leather goods, shoes, jewelry and ready-to-wear brand, was close to securing a lease at 845 Madison Ave. at 70th Street, but backed out, according to sources. The site, which has about 5,000 square feet, was formerly occupied by Gianfranco Ferré, who moved his store to 870 Madison Ave. In Manhattan, Vuitton also operates a flagship at 1 East 57th St. and a shop at 116 Greene St. in SoHo, but it’s not unusual for Vuitton to put two or three major stores in a big city. A spokeswoman for Louis Vuitton, a division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, said the company would not comment.

M&S INVESTORS TENDER SHARES: Marks & Spencer shareholders, who rallied round the retailer’s management as it fought off a takeover bid by retail tycoon Philip Green this summer, have once again shown their support for the company. They overwhelmingly supported the firm’s tender offer of 2.3 billion pounds, or $4.14 billion, that closed on Friday. Dollar figures have been converted at current exchange. The strike price for the offer was set at 3.62 pounds, or $6.52. M&S said in a statement Monday the tender offer cancels about 27.9 percent of the company’s share capital. The price is at a premium to the company’s Friday closing per-share price of 3.57 pounds, or $6.58, although it is considerably lower than the 4 pounds, or $7.20, Green was offering. The tender offer was designed to win shareholders’ support during the takeover battle. M&S shares closed at 3.59 pounds, or $6.60, up 0.42 percent.

OUTLOOK NEGATIVE: Moody’s Investors Service revised its rating outlook on St. John Knits International Inc. to negative from stable, but left existing debt ratings unchanged. About $235 million of rated debt was affected by the revision. Moody’s said it revised its outlook for St. John Knits because of challenging business prospects reflected in the decline of the company’s operating margin as well as weaker operating cash flow. In addition, St. John Knits faces increased market and inventory risks as it shifts its distribution strategy from a U.S. wholesale business to company-owned retail stores. The ratings agency also said the ratings continue to reflect the company’s “high leverage and weak balance sheet (with a stockholder’s deficit).”

This story first appeared in the October 26, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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