MAXWELL SAID: Maxwell Shoe Co. said Tuesday that Jones Apparel Group Inc. and its subsidiary MSC Acquisition Corp. have withdrawn the majority of its claims from a lawsuit filed in a Delaware Chancery Court against the footwear firm that arose over Jones’ proposed $300 million tender offer for Maxwell shares. One claim in connection with Maxwell’s certificate of incorporation remains in the Delaware court system, which Maxwell said is “without merit” and that it intends to defend against. Maxwell’s federal court action in Boston against Jones is not affected by the changes in the lawsuit that is under the Delaware court’s jurisdiction. As reported, the federal court action filed by Maxwell alleged misstatements by Jones in connection with its tender offer. Jones on Monday extended the expiration of its tender offer until May 17 at midnight.
ENTERTAINING BETTER OFFERS: Despite having entered into a merger agreement with Luxottica Group SpA in January, Cole National Corp.’s board of directors said Tuesday it would provide private information and begin merger discussions with Moulin International Holdings Ltd. Moulin, the world’s third-largest eyewear manufacturer, made an unsolicited cash offer to acquire Cole for $25 a share, topping Luxottica’s offer of $22.50 a share. However, at this point, Cole’s board has not changed its position regarding the original agreement with Luxottica.
WEB FABRICS: J. Crew Group Inc. is using Web-based software from Freeborders Inc. to manage the design and buying of fabrics and trims. J. Crew aims to cut prices, get faster deliveries and shrink its inventory of fabrics and trims by aggregating buying across its men’s and women’s divisions using FB Fabric & Trim. The product, part of a suite of life cycle management software from Freeborders, lets manufacturers and suppliers jointly design and view fabric and trims over the Web. “Freeborders Fabric & Trim will enable us to collaborate better with our trim suppliers, speed our decision making, and streamline the fabric and trim approval process overall,” said J.Crew’s chief information officer, Paul Fusco.
LAYOFFS AT SPIEGEL: Bankrupt Spiegel Group said it is laying off 255 employees at its headquarters and at a data center, both located in Chicago. The layoffs began Tuesday and will continue over the next two months. The company, which is trying to sell its core Spiegel catalogue operation, also said preliminary negotiations with a potential buyer were still ongoing. It added that there was no guarantee that a purchaser would be willing to assume the majority of the current Spiegel catalogue workforce. Bill Kosturos, interim chief executive officer and chief restructuring officer, said in a statement that the company in the meantime was continuing its efforts to “minimize the ongoing operating losses” of the catalogue business. Spiegel, which filed for bankruptcy March 2003, is also shopping its Eddie Bauer operation.