LOUISIANA LOWS LIVE ON: The Louisiana House of Representatives on Tuesday voted down, 54-39, a bill that would have outlawed the wearing of low-rise pants. The bill had been submitted by Democratic State Rep. Derrick Shephard in April, and would have imposed a $500 fine and up to six months in jail on anyone who wore pants below the waist “thereby exposing his skin or intimate clothing.” Fashion designers and local retailers had laughed off the proposal as foolish.
ON THE MENU: Neiman Marcus Group Inc. said Wednesday it may sell its Chef’s catalogue business, which records about $75 million in annual sales of high-end kitchenware. The company said in a statement it has retained Elixir Advisors to explore “strategic alternatives” for the direct retail brand, which could include a sale, merger, joint venture or other business combination. Neiman acquired Chef’s in 1998.
JONES UPS ANTE: The thrust and parry continues between Jones Apparel Group Inc. and Maxwell Shoe Co., this time with Jones upping its offer to acquire Maxwell at $22.50 per share instead of $20. The new offer is set to expire June 21 and, according to Peter Boneparth, Jones’ chief executive officer, represents a 2 percent premium over Maxwell’s closing price on Feb. 25, the day the proposed takeover was publicly announced. In response, Maxwell urged its shareholders to take no action until its board reviewed the offer and provided further recommendations.
BELK’S BOOM: Strong sales of men’s and women’s sportswear helped Belk Inc. boost its first-quarter net income 68.1 percent to $23.7 million from $14.1 million in the year-ago period. Sales during the three months ended May 1 escalated 9.4 percent, to $550.1 million from $502.7 million, and were up 5.6 percent on a same-store basis. The Charlotte, N.C.-based operator of 225 department stores in the Southeast said $19.2 million in quarterly revenue was derived from four stores that opened during the period.