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Retail Briefs

Fitch lowers rating on Sears' notes

Fitch Ratings has lowered its rating of the senior unsecured notes of Sears, Roebuck and Co. and some of its affiliates to a "BBB+" from "A-". The rating outlook is negative, Fitch said, based on weak operating trends and uncertainty as to the timing of a turnaround of the retail businesses. Sears has $12.2 billion of domestic senior debt as of Sept. 28, 2002, Fitch said.

Burlington releases 3Q numbers

Burlington Coat Factory reported net income of $41.6 million, or $0.93 per share, for the third quarter ended Nov. 30. The company had net income of $41.3 million, or $0.93 per share, for the same period last year. Sales for the third quarter were $782.8 million, compared with sales of $744.2 million from the year-ago period, an increase of 5.2 percent. Comps for the period decreased 1.3 percent.

Hilpert out at Williams-Sonoma; Mueller new ceo

Edward Mueller has been named ceo of Williams-Sonoma following the sudden departure of Dale Hilpert, who was with the company for less than two years. The firm, which operates retailers Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Hold Everything and West Elm, said it would take a $3.6 million charge in the fourth quarter, related to Hilpert's leaving. It will negatively impact earnings by $0.02 per share. Mueller was formerly ceo of SBC Ameritech, a division of SBC Communications, and has served on the Williams-Sonoma board since 1999.

Family Dollar opens 15 units

Family Dollar Stores reported opening 15 stores in 13 states during the five-week period ended Jan. 4, bringing its store total to 4,690 units.

Brylane, union agree on representation process

Retailer Brylane and UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees) have reached an agreement allowing workers at Brylane's Indiana catalog distribution centers to decide if they want union representation. Brylane and UNITE signed a joint statement of agreement to allow a process for a secret mail-in card/ballot procedure administered by a neutral third party attorney. The campaign will run from Jan. 9 to 23.

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