This story first appeared in the January 30, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

  • MULBERRY PUSH: Roger Saul, founder of London luxury apparel brand Mulberry, has sold a 5 percent stake in the 30-year-old company to fund manager Artemis, bringing Artemis’ share to 10 percent. The move follows Saul’s sale of around 20 percent last October. He now holds 2.5 million shares in the brand, or a 5.1 percent stake. Saul has been gradually selling off his stake since last September, after two years of battling with partners Ong Beng Seng and Christina Ong, who have a 52.7 percent stake in Mulberry through their company Challice. The Ongs attempted to oust Saul from the firm in November 2002, citing poor performance, while Saul accused the Ongs of trying to wrest control of the company without making a fair bid to shareholders. The dispute was eventually resolved, but incurred $1.4 million in exceptional costs.

  • NEW SPARKLE FOR REEDS: Sparkle LLC, a company formed by members of the Zimmer family, announced it has initiated a cash tender offer to purchase all outstanding shares of Reeds Jewelers for $1.85 a share. Currently, Alan Zimmer, Reeds’ president and chief executive, and eight other family members collectively own approximately 87.5 percent of the outstanding stock. Once completed, Sparkle’s stake will exceed 90 percent. Any remaining shares not obtained in the offer will be acquired in a “short form” merger of Reeds and the affiliate. No approval from Reeds’ board of directors is necessary. The offer and withdrawal rights will expire March 1. Reeds closed up 1.11 percent to close at $1.82 in trading on the American Stock Exchange.

  • WAL-MART STUDY: A study commissioned by Wal-Mart was released by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. Tuesday saying the seven-county region surrounding Los Angeles stands to save billions of dollars and gain 36,400 jobs upon the arrival of Wal-Mart supercenters. The study, not surprisingly pro-supercenter, is seen as a rebuttal to a Rodino & Associates report, commissioned by Mayor James Hahn’s development office, which found the city will see a net loss in wages and benefits from grocers and other businesses upon the arrival of the huge food-and-general merchandise formats. Among the other statistics, the LAEDC report contends the 3.6 million consumers within the Los Angeles city limits could save an average of $524 per household annually. The savings, the report argues, would filter back into the community and create additional jobs.