EXTRA SPARKLE: Bulgari said Wednesday it has formed a venture with the Leviev Group, which produces cut diamonds, to further develop its diamond jewelry business. Under the terms of the agreement, Bulgari International Corporation NV, a fully owned subsidiary of Bulgari SpA, and LLD Diamonds Ltd., a fully owned subsidiary of Leviev Group, will each hold a 50 percent stake in the venture and create a new company based in Switzerland. In a statement, Francesco Trapani, Bulgari’s chief executive officer, said the agreement will be strategic in consolidating the company’s position in the jewelry market, particularly the diamond jewelry segment. The Leviev Group has sales of $2.5 billion in the diamond business.
PRESSMAN’S NEW ROLE: Robert Pressman has joined Studley, the commercial real estate services firm, as executive vice president of its new national retail division. The division will specialize in providing real estate and financial services for the retail and consumer products industries, as well as restructuring and bankruptcy matters. Pressman was executive managing director of the retail management consulting group at Cushman & Wakefield and before that worked at Newmark Retail Financial Advisors. Prior to that, he was co-chairman of Barneys New York.
EARLY EASTER HELPS TOO: An early Easter and a reduction in the cost of goods sold helped Too Inc. join its specialty store cohorts in reporting significantly improved earnings for the first quarter. For the 13 weeks ended May 1, the New Albany, Ohio-based tween girls retailer saw earnings inflate 26.1 percent to $5.2 million, or 15 cents a diluted share, besting Wall Street’s consensus estimate by 2 cents. Comparatively, the company reported earnings of $4.2 million, or 12 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Sales spiked 11.7 percent to $154.1 million from $138 million.
GONE TO ARBITRATION: A judge in an Oakland County court ruled that former Kmart Corp. executives, including chairman and chief executive officer Charles Conaway, who are being sued by the Kmart Creditor Trust over retention loans, should face an arbitration panel instead of a jury, the Associated Press reported. The trust is suing the executives to get back $28.8 million worth of loans given to the executives prior to the retailer’s bankruptcy in 2002. The report said that the defendants have not been charged with any crimes, and that this case is unrelated to a federal lawsuit against former Kmart executives involving the loss of retirement funds from the Chapter 11.