Itochu has distribution and license deals with a variety of bag and accessories brands such as Hunting World and part-owns Le Sportsac, but most of its brands are mid to upper end with little mass market presence. It has just signed a deal with the UK’s Accessorize chain to fix this.
Itochu has signed an exclusive distribution deal with UK accessories chain Accessorize. Accessorize was founded by Monsoon, a UK fashion retailer with sales of £523 million in FY2013 and more than 1,000 stores in 60 countries. Accessorize sells fashion jewellery, hair accessories, bags, sunglasses and lingerie, as well as shoes and party outfits at reasonable prices. Most products have an ethnic slant, with sourcing in India and Afghanistan. Bags retail for as little as ¥2,000 and accessories from ¥300.
Monsoon originally set up its own subsidiary in Japan in 2006, but made little progress due to a lack of focus by head office, and despite strong sales of around ¥150 million per year from a 60 sqm store that opened in Harajuku. In 2010, Accessorize agreed to franchise the Japan business to a start up called Maji, run by a former director of Tommy Hilfiger Japan, Tsukasa Komiya. Komiya began online sales through Zozotown and planned 20 stores, but then closed the Harajuku store, opening another instead in Terrace Mall Shonan.
As a result of the lack of progress Monsoon contracted with Itochu Shoji through its subsidiary Le Sportsac Japan, which will handle shop operations. Le Sportsac Japan will continue operating the Shonan store and Zozotown online sales, and add two more stores this Spring. Over the next few years it will add 20 more with forecast sales of ¥2 billion. Stores will be located in fashion and station buildings targeting 28-35 year old women. It will also add a flagship in Harajuku, rolling out to suburban SCs later. 70% of merchandise will be purchased from Monsoon with the rest made under license. Itochu plans to match UK retail prices in order to keep the chain competitive.
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