EUROFLASH

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GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE: It’s no secret that Hermes is doing well, having posted a 20 percent sales increase last year. But Hermes also does OK at auction. At a recent sale in Paris, 266 Hermes products dating from the 1930s to present fetched a total of $58,000. Come Remy, the curator for Hermes’s design conservatory, is always looking for vintage Hermes goods, but he hinted the firm doesn’t exactly like sales of used goods. “Why pay $180 at auction for something that could be stained, when for just $60 more, you can get the same item new in our store?” he asked.

UNITED COLORS AT HOME: Benetton SpA is going into mail order — but only in English. The Italian apparel company has signed a deal with the new firm Nota Bene under which 500,000 catalogs will be distributed in Britain starting in May. The catalog, called Benetton Direct, will offer 120 styles of women’s, men’s and children’s wear. Four issues are planned each year, said Richard Birtchnell, Nota Bene’s marketing director. The photography is being overseen by Oliviero Toscani, Benetton’s creative director, who is also in charge of those unusual Benetton ads.

NO DEAL: The Spanish Ministry of Commerce has postponed indefinitely the sale of Galerias Preciados because of inadequate offers. Galerias is Spain’s second-largest department store chain with 30 units. Two bids were received — one from a Spanish businessman for up to $77 million (10 billion pesetas) and one from a group of Galerias suppliers and creditors for about $38.7 million (5 billion pesetas). The ministry is holding out for at least $116.3 million (15 billion pesetas).

GIORGIO UPS THE ANTE: Giorgio Armani SpA has increased its stake in sportswear maker Simint SpA to 32.5 percent, by underwriting a $27 million (44.8 billion lire) capital increase for the troubled manufacturer. But another shareholder, Milan investment bank Sige, declined to take up its share of the capital increase, reducing its stake in Simint to 0.17 percent from 10 percent. As reported, Armani has made a commitment to restructuring the sportswear manufacturer, which produces the Armani jeans collection.