FIT TO GET ENDOWMENT: The Fashion Institute of Technology will receive a $300,000 endowment from Retail Brand Alliance and United Way of New York City. The scholarship fund will be presented at a reception June 27 at the Manhattan-based school. The money will initially provide five full-tuition scholarships to students who were directly affected by the events of Sept. 11, and in later years to other eligible students. The funds will be distributed through FIT’s Education Foundation for the Fashion Industries. Retail Brand Alliance is the parent company of Casual Corner Group, Adrienne Vittadini, Carolee Designs and Brooks Bros.

This story first appeared in the June 25, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

DOOR OPEN AT BENETTON: Benetton denied Monday that it has decided to sell its money-losing sporting goods unit, but clearly, it is leaving its options open. “No decision has been made,” a spokesman said. Benetton did say it has received expressions of interest and it is open to alliances and partnerships. Benetton said its sporting goods business, which includes the Nordica, Prince, Rollerblade and Killer Loop brands, posted a loss of $46.6 million in 2001, while this year’s loss should shrink to $15.5 million. Dollar figures are converted from euros at current exchange.

NEW ZALE CHIEF: Zale Corp. said Monday that Mary L. Forte will become chief executive officer on Aug. 1, succeeding Robert J. DiNicola, who will continue as chairman in a nonexecutive capacity. Forte, a 26-year veteran of retailing, has been Zale’s executive vice president and chief merchandise officer since February 2001 and was instrumental in the company’s turnaround over the last 18 months. She joined Zale in July 1994 as president of its Gordon’s Jewelers division, which she upgraded, and became executive vice president and chief administrative officer in January 1998, where she was involved in the Peoples Jewellers of Canada and Piercing Pagoda acquisitions. Prior to Zale, she held executive jobs at QVC, The Bon Marche and Rich’s. Zale is the nation’s largest fine jewelry specialty retailer. DiNicola’s retirement — his second from the corporation — was planned. He first became chairman and ceo of Zale in 1994, retired in 1999, and returned in February 2001 to get the retailer back on track.

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