H&M’S DOUBLE DIGITS: Hennes & Mauritz’s December sales rose 10 percent above those of the prior-year month, the Swedish fashion retailer reported on Tuesday. H&M said it had reduced stock levels, resulting in fewer price reductions and an improvement in its gross margin. H&M will report profits Jan. 30.

A KICK FOR CELINE: Celine plans to unveil next Monday a collection of accessories and sportswear in tribute to the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament. European fashion houses have long held a torch for its favored sports, from Louis Vuitton’s limited-edition logo soccer ball to Yves Saint Laurent’s massive, 40-year retrospective extravaganza at half time when the World Cup final was at the Stade de France in 1998. The 2002 World Cup championship takes place in Japan and Korea this summer.

SHOPKO D.C. DARKENED: ShopKo Stores Inc. will shutter its Bethany, Mo. Pamida distribution facility by March 15, cutting 51 jobs and incurring pre-tax charges of $3.5 million. A $2.7 million charge will be taken in the fourth quarter with the balance, related to early retirement of debt, taken when the debt is erased. The facility was acquired in June 2000 as part of the 49-unit P.M. Place Stores Co., which was absorbed into the Pamida division.

FOR SAKS’S SAKE: Saks Inc. will consolidate most of its credit card operations in its Jackson, Miss., credit card services center by this May, reducing overhead by $2 million a year and resulting in a net reduction of about 100 jobs. Saks will add about 100 positions in Jackson, bringing its workforce there to about 430, and eliminate all but 50 of the 250 current jobs in its Elmhurst, Ill., center, where its credit card bank will continue operations. The company expects greater efficiency, improved customer service and no material effect on its earnings as a result.

IT’S A WRAP: LeSportsac and Diane Von Furstenberg are teaming up for a collection of limited-edition handbags and small accessories this fall. Though designs are still being finalized, they will feature prints in two colorways at retail prices from $40 to $75 for handbags and totes, and $15 to $30 for small accessories, including cosmetics bags and shoulder-strap minibags. “Both brands were born in the Seventies, there is a lot of synergy there.” said Tim Schifter, LeSportsac’s chief executive officer. In addition to department stores, the DVF line will be sold throughout the LeSportsac chain and at boutiques carrying her ready-to-wear collection.

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