FINANCO ADVISING JACOBSON: Financo Inc., the investment banking firm based in New York, has been hired by Jacobson Stores Inc. as an adviser on restructuring alternatives. The 18-unit Jacobson’s filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Jan. 15 and has court approval to close five stores. Gilbert Harrison, chairman of Financo, said Jacobson’s has alternatives, including restructuring the business, bringing in an investor, or selling to another retailer. There has been speculation that Dillard’s wants one or two sites, at least, as does May Co. for its Lord & Taylor division. Belk’s and Federated Department Stores could also be interested.

I.E., MAY BE: Seeking to further develop its private brands, May Department Stores Co. has decided on labels for two new women’s sportswear lines for fall, WWD has learned. The mainstream customer will be targeted through the “be” brand, while the “i.e.” label will feature a more updated look. As reported, the St. Louis-based firm last summer started setting up a design team in New York, drawing on outside talent to boost its private branded program.

CAMEROON GETS BREAKS: Cameroon has joined 14 other sub-Saharan African nations who receive quota and duty apparel breaks. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative formally extended the duty-and-quota-free trade breaks to Cameroon under a trade measure passed in 2000 by Congress covering sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean Basin.

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