JONES INKS ESPRIT DEAL: Jones Apparel Group has signed a letter of intent for a licensing deal with the U.S. subsidiary of Esprit Holdings Ltd. for women’s handbags, luggage, small leather goods and footwear. Jones will manufacture and distribute Esprit, Esprit Sport, Esprit de Corp. and EDC by Esprit products through its Nine West Group division. Esprit’s U.S. subsidiary previously manufactured its accessories in-house. Esprit accessories will be distributed to department and specialty stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The products will be launched for transition/early spring retailing.
YSL BEAUTE KEEPS FENDI FRAGRANCE LICENSE: An arbitration panel in Rome has ruled that YSL Beaute, the beauty and fragrance division of Gucci Group, will be able to retain its Fendi fragrance license until October 2005, a Gucci spokesman said. Fendi Adele Srl had taken the case against Fendi Profumi, a division of YSL Beaute, to an arbitration court last year in an effort to win back the license. The three-member panel decided in Gucci Group’s favor last month, the spokesman confirmed. Fendi fragrances have sales of approximately $14.3 million annually.
NOTED TARGET: Fitch Ratings rated Target Corp.’s new $750 million debt issuance at “A” with a stable outlook. The notes, maturing in 2009, bear an interest rate of 5.375 percent. “Target’s credit profile is expected to remain solid despite a continuing high level of capital expenditures to finance growth in square footage at the Target division,” said Fitch analyst Philip Zahn in a statement. The Minneapolis-based retailer on Thursday also laid out plans for a 1.3 million-square-foot distribution center in Topeka, Kan., initially employing approximately 650 people.