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Lucky Brand Licenses Handbags

Lucky Brand is moving into handbags for fall and plans to take its first steps in the international arena before the year is over.

Lucky Brand is moving into handbags for fall and plans to take its first steps in the international arena before the year is over.

The Los Angeles-based jeanswear brand, part of Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., has licensed Trebbianno LLC, a New York-based accessories firm, to manufacture and market Lucky Brand handbags for distribution in the U.S. and Canada, with first deliveries to wholesale accounts and Lucky’s stores slated for June. The bags also will be available on the company’s e-commerce site at luckybrand.com.

The pact with Trebbianno marks Lucky’s seventh licensing agreement, following arrangements with The Camuto Group for women’s footwear, Parigi Group Ltd. for children’s, Elizabeth Arden for fragrance, REM for eyewear, Lunada Bay for women’s swimwear and Contour for technical accessories.

“Footwear has been in place for a number of years and we’ll have children’s in the stores for spring,” Dave DeMattei, chief executive officer of Lucky, told WWD. “We’ve done some jewelry in-house and really felt accessories was a natural for us.”

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With retail prices generally falling below $250, the line reflects what the company describes as its “casual, Southern California chic” design aesthetic and is dominated by leather with accents including braided handles, selective placement of hardware and sporadic use of patterns.

“Our two teams immediately connected,” said Terry McCormick, president of Trebbianno. “We understood the Lucky Brand aesthetic of casual, bohemian chic and we quickly could envision what the collection should look like.”

The licensing agreement comes as Lucky wraps up a year of double-digit increases in sales and continued bottom-line improvement following a painstaking effort at redirecting merchandise and operations.

Preliminary figures for 2012 are for revenues of $461 million, up 10.2 percent from $418.2 million in 2011. In the fourth quarter, comparable sales, including existing stores and direct-to-consumer activities, were up 3 percent, reflecting downward pressure from the impact of Hurricane Sandy. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the year are expected to land between $34 million and $35 million, up from $22 million in 2011, and rise about 50 percent in 2013 to between $50 million and $55 million.

DeMattei pegged much of the sales growth to a successful foray into plus sizes, impactful presentations of sweaters and knits and expansion of its in-house jewelry efforts.

The move into handbags should appeal to wholesale customers looking to expand their business with the brand, and it’s also figuring into Lucky’s push to reach the sales-per-square-foot target of $650 established for the business by William L. McComb, ceo of the parent company. After dipping to $365 in 2010, that figure vaulted to $420 in 2011.

The licensed businesses are helping to meet that objective. Parigi’s children’s apparel will be in Lucky’s stores for spring and Camuto’s footwear is in 50 of the company’s 174 specialty stores, although not in its 49 outlet doors.

DeMattei noted that Lucky’s stores are small, averaging about 2,000 square feet, and effective use of space is a constant challenge. Patrick Wade, who became executive vice president and creative director of the brand when DeMattei joined as ceo three years ago, experimented with special mirrored fixtures in the company’s hometown store in Century City to accommodate some of the footwear inventory there and later rolled out the idea to the stores that carry shoes.

“We don’t have big backrooms,” DeMattei said, “and we don’t have a lot of space to play with on the floor. But if we’re going to do something, we want to do it well.”

That same attitude is being taken as the company begins to explore the opportunities for international distribution and retailing, an area that’s produced strong results for Lucky’s sister divisions Kate Spade and Juicy Couture.

“We’ve worked hard to get a tighter, more focused assortment for spring,” the ceo said. “We’ve entered handbags, kids and plus sizes. The next move will be a distribution arrangement for international and it’s being negotiated now.”