IN THE MIDDLE

THE GAP DRESSES UP: Has the mood started to shift back to more formal office dressing? It looks like it at the Gap.
The specialty retailer, which capitalized on the dress-down trend over the last two years with polo-style shirts, denim jeans and twinsets, is now dressing up the look for spring.
The Gap’s casual business looks for women include fitted shirtjackets and skirts shown with shiny loafers; dressy belted khaki pants, shown with white shirts, and sheath dresses.
For men, it is serving up double-breasted navy blue jackets and khaki pants accessorized with ties, pinstriped shirts and black loafers. Its windows display these looks on mannequins against an office setting complete with lamps and chairs.
“My whole feeling is that the grunge, dress-down Friday look has seen its day, and the pendulum is starting to swing back to being more formal, though not as formal as a couple of years ago,” said Joe Teklits, associate analyst at Ladenburg Thalman & Co., a New York investment firm. “The Gap is trying to find that medium.”
A Gap spokeswoman, however, said, “People have always worn our clothes to work, but we are taking our fashions to a new dimension and offering them suit options.

SPIEGEL ADDS PRESIDENT: John W. Irvin will become president of Spiegel Catalog, Downers Grove, Ill., on April 1. It is a new post. Irvin will handle merchandising, advertising and marketing departments of the catalog.
The move will allow John J. Shea, vice chairman, president and chief executive of Spiegel Inc., to focus on strategic initiatives and long-term growth objectives for The Spiegel Group, which includes the Spiegel Catalog, Eddie Bauer and Newport News.
Irvin was senior vice president for Mervyn’s, a division of Dayton Hudson Corp. Before that, he was president of Maison Blanche in Baton Rouge, La., and senior vice president and general merchandise manager of Sanger Harris in Dallas.
In other news, David C. Moon, executive vice president in charge of Spiegel Catalog’s merchandising, and Kenneth A. Bochenski, senior vice president of operations and information services, have accepted an early retirement offer from Spiegel Inc.
Moon and Bochenski also stepped down from Spiegel’s board. The company expects to replace the two men as directors at its next board meeting.

CHANGES AT KELLWOOD: Andrew C. Stitch, president and chief executive officer of Kellwood’s Robert Scott/David Brooks division, was named chairman of Cape Cod/Cricket Lane, another Kellwood company.
The move, company officials said, is part of Kellwood’s overall restructuring plan to bring similar divisions together under the direction of a group chairman, to maximize executive talent and to create synergies among divisions, where appropriate.
In another development, Elizabeth H. Sweney was named executive vice president of merchandising for Cape Cod/Cricket Lane. It is a new post. She joined Kellwood in January 1994 as vice president of merchandising for Sag Harbor.
Jack Finkelman remains president of Cape Cod/Cricket Lane, based in West Bridgewater, Mass. Robert Scott/David Brooks is based in Dedham, Mass.

GANTOS’S BETTER BOTTOM: Despite declining sales, Gantos Inc., which emerged from Chapter 11 about a year ago, managed to up operating income for the fourth quarter and year ended Feb. 3.
After special credits of about $1 million in the latest and year-ago quarters, operating income for the quarter increased 9 percent to $4.2 million from $3.9 million.
Net income for the period was $3.1 million, or 41 cents a share, against $4.4 million, or $1.67, after a $1.6 million non-recurring gain.
Per-share numbers reflect a 1-for-2 reverse split and the issuance of 4.6 million new shares to creditors as part of the Chapter 11 plan. Under the plan, creditors were paid 50 cents on the dollar in cash and 60 percent of the equity.
Sales for the quarter dipped 3.6 percent to $56.1 million from $58.2 million.
Adam Moskowitz, analyst at BDS Securities, said the figures were in line with his estimates. He said Gantos is maintaining margins, managing inventory and keeping tight control of expenses. He also said the company has a strong balance sheet, with no bank borrowings against its credit line.
For the full year, operating income more than doubled to $6.3 million from $2.8 million. Net income rose to $3.7 million, or 55 cents, from $2.6 million, or 97 cents. Sales were off 2.3 percent to $192.8 million from $197.3 million.
Moskowitz estimated that adjusted for the special items, Gantos earned about 40 cents a share in 1995. He’s estimating 65 cents for 1996.
Gantos, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., operates 113 women’s specialty stores in 23 states.

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