LVMH UPGRADE: Standard & Poor’s, the debt ratings agency, on Monday upgraded its outlook on LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton from “negative” to “stable,” saying the French luxury conglomerate had improved its debt coverage on the back of robust sales in the first quarter and improved cash flow. S&P also affirmed LVMH’s “BBB-plus” long-term and “A-2” short-term ratings. LVMH sales gained 1.7 percent in the first quarter to $3.39 billion, or 2.85 billion euros, gaining momentum in an improving climate for luxury. Organic sales growth was 10 percent in the first quarter. S&P predicted that the group’s second-quarter revenues should benefit from last year’s low comparisons, affected by SARS and the war in Iraq.
URBAN INVESTMENT: Urban Brands Inc., owner of the Ashley Stewart and Marianne nameplates, has secured a $20 million equity investment from New York-based asset management firm Trimaran Capital Partners. An initial $13.5 million investment was made on April 19, with the remaining funding to be made in up to three additional closings. Once complete, Trimaran will have a controlling interest in the company. Under terms of the deal, Robert Grayson, a Trimaran affiliate and former chief executive officer of Limited Stores, will join Urban’s boards of directors. The company intends to use the funds to repay debt and boost working capital levels.
PACSUN’S NEW VP: Teen specialty retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. has hired C. Joseph Harris as vice president of sourcing and production. Harris will oversee those areas for PacSun’s private label merchandise, as well as for the chain’s urban-inspired Demo stores. He will report to Tim Harmon, president and chief merchandising officer of the Anaheim, Calif.-based company. Harris most recently served as the executive vice president of New York-based Rousso Apparel Group, a manufacturer that is the licensee for Oleg Cassini sportswear. He will replace Diane Nance, whose 10-year stint at PacSun ends Friday.