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You know things are bad when Chanel is firing people. The company is letting go of 200 employees in Paris. "Luxury brands were once thought of — or self-styled — as immune to economic pitfalls, but the precipitous decline in sales at retailers like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue has shown how serious an impact the global recession has had on all parts of the marketplace. Still, Chanel, with its array of tweedy clothes, quilted handbags and fruitful fragrances that approach $5 billion in annual sales, was considered the paradigm of luxury brands, so its retrenchment is seen as especially ominous." [NYT]