BROKEN FRAMES: Airess, the French eyewear firm that holds licenses for John Galliano, Cacharel and Kenzo eyeglasses and sunglasses, has filed for the equivalent of Chapter 11 protection in France. The company, which most recently inked a deal to market Jean Paul Gaultier eyewear, blamed the war in Iraq and SARS in Asia for exacerbating its debt load. Airess has restructured several times over the last decade. The firm said judicial protection would allow it to shake off its current difficulty. — Robert Murphy
SECOND AND THIRD: In the face of a difficult economic climate in France, two cataloguers are joining forces: 3 Suisse International, ranked second for its mail-order business after Pinault-Printemps-Redoute’s La Redoute division, has decided to invest in the Camif Group, whose mail-order operations are ranked third. Three Suisse said it would invest $31.1 million, or 27 million euros, in Camif Group, including its consumer credit subsidiary and its Appartenance mail-order subsidiary. Other investors participating in Camif’s recapitalization include the insurance firm, Maif, and Casden Banque Populaire. — Emilie Marsh
HITTING ITS MARKS: Increases in apparel and food volume helped boost profits at Marks & Spencer PLC.
The U.K. retailer’s net income for the six months ended Sept. 27 rose 13 percent to $378 million from $334.7 million in the same period last year. Retail sales grew 4.3 percent to $5.6 billion from $5.4 billion. Dollar figures have been converted from the pound at current exchange as M&S reported net income of 225 pounds on sales of 3.3 billion pounds.
Food, which generates the bulk of sales, grew 6.9 percent, followed by apparel, which expanded 2.5 percent, and the home collection, which rose by 0.1 percent.
“We performed well in casualwear, both in women’s and men’s wear, notably in the Per Una women’s wear range, which delivered strong like-for-like sales in its second year,” said chief executive Roger Holmes. “However, knitwear was affected by the hot weather and we have more work to do in women’s tailoring.”
Although its U.K. market share for lingerie rose 0.7 percent, Marks & Spencer said it has held its overall market share at 10.9 percent of the U.K. clothing market. — Ellen Burney