Pacific Northwest Upscale retailer Gucci plans to open a store in the downtown Seattle location where women's clothier Escada used to be...

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Pacific Northwest

Retail

Upscale retailer Gucci plans to open a store in the downtown Seattle location where women’s clothier Escada used to be, putting it near Louis Vuitton and St. John at Fifth Avenue and University Street.

Gucci has stores in 16 states, but none in Washington until now. Escada closed its downtown store last month.

Susie Detmer, a Seattle retail specialist for the real-estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield, said she thinks the new Gucci store will go over well.

“I think people in the Pacific Northwest are more likely to spend several hundred dollars on a Gucci handbag rather than several thousand dollars on an Escada outfit,” Detmer said.

Also, walking-shoe company Mephisto plans to open a 600-square-foot store next month at 400 University St. downtown.

Autos

Lithia Motors cuts dividend

Lithia Motors, operator of 106 auto dealerships in the U.S., said it will cut its dividend for the first time since the company began quarterly payouts in 2003.

Medford, Ore.-based Lithia reduced its third-quarter dividend to 5 cents a share, from 14 cents in the previous quarter, citing “the current economic environment,” according to a statement distributed Monday.

The dividend will be paid on Oct. 29 to shareholders of record on Oct. 15.

High gas prices, falling home values and turbulence in the credit market have hurt vehicle sales in the U.S., Chief Executive Officer Sid DeBoer said in an earnings conference call earlier this month. The company posted a second-quarter loss of $243.8 million.

Lithia has cut more than 800 jobs over the past year, reported three consecutive quarterly losses, and withdrew earnings forecasts last month for 2008 because weak sales made predicting earnings difficult.

Officials at Lithia did not return a voice mail seeking comment.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News