Itochu signs yet more brands

Jul 15

Itochu has more than 150 brands under management, with a portfolio management style akin to a music conglomerate, continually questing for new prospects. Its latest signings include Emanuel Ungaro, Eastpak, Hunter and Breuer, all on behalf of Coronet, which is becoming a major player in brand distribution once more.

Itochu Shoji snapped up a few more brands last month. Emanuel Ungaro womenswear will be distributed through Itochu subsidiary Coronet from S/S2015 under an exclusive distribution deal. Since 2012 Italian firm Aeffe SpA has held the global license for womenswear and accessories and in 2013 appointed Fausto Puglisi as designer. It is this collection that Itochu has signed the rights to. Itochu expects sales of around ¥1 billion at retail from Ungaro within three years.

Last month Itochu signed another French brand, Breuer, a menswear label for which it also took exclusive distribution rights and again handed over to Coronet. The brand, which designed the uniform for the French Olympic men’s team, will be targeted at men in their 30s to 50s through corners in department stores and wholesaling to select shops.

At the end of the month, Itochu then signed Eastpak, the US bag and accessory business, taking over from Sojitz which had held the rights since just 2012 through Sojitz-GMC, a distributor of overseas apparel and bag brands such as Reef, Admiral and Dot Drops. Coronet will again be Itochu’s chosen distributor and sell the full line of bags, backpacks, accessories and suitcases.

Coronet will aim to reposition the brand as a more fashion-led label, based on the extensive collaborations with fashion designers organised by Eastpak in the US such as APC, Raf Simons and Rick Owens. Coronet will also open more Eastpak stores and expand the number of retail accounts. Sales of ¥2 billion are expected within three years – sales are estimated at a little under ¥1 billion currently through select shops such as Beams and Ships, as well as a Sojitz-operated Eastpak store in Harajuku.

Coronet will also be tasked with distribution of the new apparel and accessories lines of British boot brand, Hunter Boot. Hunter and Itochu Shoji have just agreed to set up a Japanese joint venture with Itochu Home Fashion handling footwear, and Coronet all other product. Hunter has been distributed here by Kamei Proact until now.

These brands will join other luxury labels such as Lanvin and Nina Ricci that are also distributed by Coronet, a business that was restructured several years ago to clean the balance sheet and start afresh as the main distribution arm of Itochu for overseas apparel and accessory brands.

Coronet saw sales rise 8% to ¥8.15 billion in FY2013 on the back of new brands and strong sales for Lanvin, up 15%, and Lucien Pellat-Finet. This helped net profit rise 18%, but a much greater focus on retail operations also helped – retail sales exceeded 40% of turnover for the first time in 2012 – 12 new stores were opened last year, with a net 72 operating as of the end of FY2013. This year Coronet is forecasting sales of ¥9 billion thanks to the new brands and has plans to sign more, particularly in non-apparel categories like bags and jewellery.

Itochu and Nikki to launch Ocean Pacific overseas

Itochu Shoji and its affiliate Nikki, the sports firm, will rebrand Nikki’s sports lifestyle brand Ocean Pacific this year with plans to launch in Asian markets and expand sales from ¥6 billion currently to ¥9 billion within three years. Itochu acquired Asian licensing rights in 2012, having earlier signed the brand for Japan and handed over day to day operations to Nikki. Nikki now has a seven year license from Itochu to expand into Asian markets, and Itochu has awarded other sublicenses in handkerchiefs and fragrances.