READY, AMES, FIRE: Ames Department Stores Inc. on Wednesday said it will close another 54 stores, with liquidations of inventory at the shuttered sites beginning on Dec. 30. The latest round of store closings follows the announced closure last month of the Columbus, Ohio, distribution center and 16 stores. So far, 25,450 store associates and employees at the center have been affected. Financial sources said that creditors were pushing for the latest round of shutdowns to cut overhead and operational costs. Ames, which filed for Chapter 11 in August, will operate 333 sites after the closures are completed.

A FINE VINTAGE: Though they might not always like to admit it, vintage clothes are a major source of inspiration for designers — take for example, the Victorian and Edwardian looks that are so popular now. On Dec. 7, they can stake their claim as the next big thing when a group of 20 vintage clothing and accessories dealers hold The Dealer’s Cooperative Vintage Clothing Show at the Holiday Inn on West 57th Street in New York. Items at the sale will include Victorian lace pieces, a Pierre Cardin Op Art top, a beaded Halston gown and embroidered Chinese shawls from the 1920s.

BATH’S BARN BOSS: The White Barn Candle Co. named Christiane Michaels to the new post of president, overseeing all aspects of the home fragrance and decor business. White Barn is operated by the Bath & Body Works division of Intimate Brands Inc. Michaels will report to Beth Pritchard, chief executive officer of BBW. She was president of the Waverly Lifestyle Group of F. Schumacher & Co., and before that she worked at Westpoint Stevens and Ethan Allen. WBCC products are sold through the 1570 BBW and 128 WBCC stores. Launched in November 1999, WBCC posted home fragrance sales of $237 million in 2000.

BENNACK TO RETIRE: Frank A. Bennack Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Hearst Corp., said Wednesday that he will retire next June. Bennack, 68, has served 23 years in the post. He will become chairman of the executive committee and vice chairman of the board of directors following his retirement. Bennack will be succeeded by Victor F. Ganzi, who has served as chief operating officer of Hearst since 1998, and before that, he was executive vice president. Ganzi joined Hearst in 1990 as vice president and general counsel.

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