One of the most luxurious brands in the world, Brunello Cucinell is now in charge of its own distribution in Japan. Sales are up and much needed investment in upgrading department store concessions will continue this year culminating in the opening of a flagship in Ginza in Autumn 2015.
Brunello Cucinelli Japan was established in November 2013 as a joint venture between the Italian luxury brand and Itochu Shoji, but with 75% of the stock owned by Brunello Cucinelli. Woollen Shokai, which had distributed the brand until then, continues to wholesale womenswear and will retain the rights through 2015.
Brunello Cucinell is famous for both its product and its ethical approach to business. It gives away 20% of its profits to a foundation and pays above average wages to staff housed in the village of Solomeo in Umbria. Brunello Cucinell still uses the original factory it began with in the 1980s, a renovated 14th century castle.
The Japanese business will see sales of ¥4.5 billion for the year ending December, but next year expects sales to climb to ¥5 billion. Part of the growth will come from a new flagship store in Ginza planned for Autumn 2015, but rather than expand store numbers at present, Brunello Cucinelli will instead negotiate bigger concession spaces in order to carry its increasingly large collections. While originally a cashmere knit business, Brunello Cucinell has expanded into a lifestyle brand selling a diverse array of apparel and accessories.
The key reason for setting up in Japan was concern over the poor quality of retail presentation and the inability to sell the full line in small, cramped concessions. Currently there are 20 outlets in Japan including a stand alone store in Aoyama. After repositioning existing concessions over the next year, Brunello Cucinelli plans to invest in stand alone stores in key cities in 2016. With larger stores, the Umbria-based firm hopes to increase sales of menswear and accessories. Currently womenswear makes up 70% of sales and accessories just 15%. Over the next few years it hopes to raise accessory sales to 20% of turnover.
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