IN BRIEF

TRIGERE HONORED: Pauline Trigere will receive the medal of chevalier of the French Legion of Honor on Dec. 13 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the world of fashion. Richard Duque, consul general of France, will officiate at the medal ceremony at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York at 6 p.m. The highest award bestowed by the French government, the National Order of the Legion of Honor was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte to recognize outstanding achievement in the military, as well as the public and private sectors.

EMSER SHUTS DOWN: Emser Apparel Fabrics, a division of West Hollywood, Calif.-based Emser International, will cease operations by the year’s end, according to president of sales Shawn Ghodsian. The nine-year-old converter, with revenues of more than $10 million, specialized in stretch wovens. Pinched by price pressure and declining local production, the company recently switched from importing novelty fabrics to stocking large quantities of base fabrics such as denim and bengaline and turning to local printers for quick-turn embellishment. Despite the switch, “the return on investment was horrible,” Ghodsian said. He said that no jobs would be lost as a result of the shutdown, since the company plans to move workers from the apparel fabrics operation into its commercial tile unit. Emser International as a whole employs about 150 people.

REVVED DOWN: Moody’s Investors Service downgraded $500 million of Revlon Consumer Products Corp.’s senior debt to Caa3. The action was prompted by a recent refinancing in which the firm issued $363 million in bonds and entered into a $250 million credit facility. While the move afforded Revlon greater short-term liquidity, Moody’s noted: “Overall, the position of the senior notes has been diminished by this higher level of funded senior secured debt.” The rating agency also reiterated its negative outlook on the cosmetics firm’s debt.

AVON, ITEMIZED: Despite weakness in Latin America, Avon Products Inc. said it can fulfill its top and bottom-line projections for the fourth quarter before a pretax restructuring charge of about $85 million. The charge, which may be followed by others like it in 2002, will pay for the acceleration of Avon’s plan to adjust operating processes and reengineer its supply chain. Avon also said it expected to reveal a new retail partner for its BeComing brand by yearend. Industry sources pointed to Kohl’s as a likely suitor and also said that Avon was looking into operating freestanding stores in traditional malls and outdoor centers.

VIETNAM PACT LAUNCHED: The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said it plans to make the implementation of dramatically reduced duties on imports from Vietnam effective today. The move, which formally launches the U.S.-Vietnam trade pact and grants the Southeast Asian nation normal trade relations status, comes three weeks earlier than expected. Without NTR status, U.S. import duties on products from Vietnam averaged 40 percent and ranged up to 90 percent on some textile categories. With it, the average duty rate for apparel and textiles is 17 percent.

KOHL’S OF CALIFORNIA: Kohl’s closed a purchase of its first distribution center in California late Thursday, solidifying its plan to put 20 to 30 stores into the West Coast by 2003. Kohl’s bought a 651,000-square-foot space at the San Bernardino International Airport and Trade Center for its second-largest center in the U.S.

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