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Retail briefs

Lowe's fortifies expansion strategy

Lowe's Companies Inc. continues to plot an aggressive growth strategy as the company has announced plans to grow its store base by 130 units in 2003 and up to 140 units in 2004.

In anticipation of last week's annual conference for analysts and investors, the retailer also said that it expects to increase revenue by 18 percent to 19 percent annually, and grow earnings per share by 19 percent to 20 percent annually over the next two years.

Major retailers settle garment worker lawsuit

Target Corp. and J.C. Penney Inc. are among seven U.S. retail corporations that have settled a federal class-action suit filed on behalf of garment workers at 23 factories in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Commonwealth. The three-year-old suit alleged violations of wage and hour laws and the denial of some workers' rights. It was filed on behalf of immigrant workers from nearby Asian countries who had been drawn to Saipan, Northern Mariana Island, to work in the factories. Under the settlement, the manufacturers and the retail group — which also includes Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, Lane Bryant, The Limited, Talbots and 19 other retailers that previously settled —will make a one-time contribution to a fund that will finance ongoing monitoring of the factories in Saipan, compensate some 30,000 garment workers and pay attorneys' fees. The total settlement is expected to reach $20 million. Retailers that previously settled the case will furnish $8.75 million of the payment, while the remaining seven and the manufacturers will split the bill for $11.25 million.

Asian fusion chef Ming Tsai headed to Target

Move over, Michael, another celebrity is headed into the housewares department at Target Stores. Starting to hit stores are food and cookery products by chef and cookbook author Ming Tsai, host of "East Meets West" on the Food Network and owner of Blue Ginger restaurant in Wellesley, MA.

Target has been characteristically low-key about the Ming Tsai/Blue Ginger deal, but did take out a glossy three-page insert in October's Gourmet to promote the program's core components: sauces, snacks, rice, dinnerware, cooking utensils, a wok set and a steamer.

Coldwater Creek restructures at the top

Coldwater Creek announced it has implemented a new management structure, shifting company founder and chairman Dennis Pence into the ceo spot, formerly held by Georgia Shonk-Simmons, who will retain the title of president with additional executive duties as chief merchandise officer. In addition, Shonk-Simmons will retain her seat on the board of directors.

The company said the move was to allow both Pence and Shonk-Simmons to focus their individual skills and collective expertise on the goal of establishing Coldwater Creek as a major brand of women's apparel.

"This marks a return to a structure that worked very well in Coldwater Creek's corporate history," Pence said. "My personal charge from the board of directors is returning the company to our days of rapid growth, and I look forward to working toward that end for the mutual benefits of the organization and the investment community."

Shonk-Simmons said, "I view this as a very positive step forward for Coldwater Creek — one that adds considerable depth to our management team and better positions us to realize the potential for increasing our top-line and earnings performance."

Pence and his wife Ann founded Coldwater Creek in 1984. He has served as president, ceo and alternately as both chairman and vice chairman since 1988.

Shonk-Simmons joined the company as vp and director of merchandising in 1998 and was promoted to president of the catalog and retail sales division in 1999.

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