This story first appeared in the January 21, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

  • BETTER OUTLOOK: Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services revised its outlook on Neiman Marcus Group Inc. to stable from negative and affirmed the company’s credit ratings Tuesday. S&P said the stable outlook reflects Neiman’s improved sales and earnings in a difficult retail environment, its attainment of strong credit measures, robust same-store sales throughout the holiday season and its conservative capital structure. The ratings S&P affirmed were Neiman’s corporate credit rating and its senior unsecured debt rating, both at “BBB.”

  • POLYESTER PRICE HIKES: A pair of polyester staple fiber manufacturers plan to raise their prices next month. Wellman Inc.’s Charlotte, N.C.-based fiber unit said Tuesday that it will hike its staple price by 8 to 10 percent, starting with Feb. 15 shipments. That news followed Charlotte-based DAK Fibers’ Friday disclosure that it plans to raise fiberfill prices by 6 to 9 percent, effective the same day. Both companies said rising raw materials costs made the moves necessary.

  • AMEREX TAKES TO THE STREET: The Amerex Group has inked a licensing deal with Kemestre 8, which does business as Akademiks, to produce Akademiks outerwear for women, men and children. The move gives Amerex leverage in the urban market, a popular area with influential fashion-conscious shoppers. The fall streetwear-inspired collections for women, men and girls will bow next month at the MAGIC trade show in Las Vegas. Founded in 1999, Akademiks JeaniusLevelProducts started in young men’s streetwear and has expanded with its Stadium division of activewear, Akdmks women’s apparel, Akademiks Kids and PRPS, contemporary denim for men. Glenn Palmer, president and chief executive officer of the Amerex Group, said, “The women’s business is growing faster than the men’s, and it should exceed the men’s business in a year or so.” The new collection will be sold to specialty and department stores.