HARCOURT’S SHRINKING NMG STAKE: Harcourt General Inc. reduced its holdings in Neiman Marcus Group Inc. to 14.2 percent, or 4 million shares of the firm’s Class A common stock, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Previously, the firm held a 15.3 percent stake in the Dallas-based retailer. As reported, between Feb. 2 and March 11 Harcourt sold off 744,600 shares of Neiman’s stock on the open market.

WATCH GALLERY: Galeries Lafayette said Monday it acquired Europa Quartz, a 59-unit watch specialty retailer in France. Terms were not disclosed. With ambitions to create Europe’s premier watch chain, Galeries said it plans to open 15 additional Europa Quartz locations in France annually and expand into Spain and Italy next year. Selling about 250 brands, Europa Quartz posted sales of $25 million in 2001.

NEW COTTON CHAIR: Cotton Inc. named Texas farmer Eddie Smith as its new chairman. He succeeds Jim Hansen, also a cotton grower, who held the position for two years. Smith has served on Cotton Inc.’s board since 1992, most recently as vice chairman.

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