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Jones Ups Stake in GRI to 25 Percent

Jones Apparel Group invests $15M in GRI, which holds the exclusive license for Jones’ Nine West, Anne Klein New York, Easy Spirit and other brands in Asia.

Jones Apparel Group boosted its stake in GRI Group, spending $15 million for a 15 percent interest in the Hong Kong-based retail distribution group and betting Asia will remain “a high growth region.”

Jones shelled out $20.2 million for 10 percent of GRI last June and now owns 25 percent of the company, which holds the exclusive license for Jones’ Nine West, Anne Klein New York, AK Anne Klein, Easy Spirit, Enzo Angiolini and Joan & David brands in Asia.

“We distribute our products through international partners in 65 countries worldwide,” said Wesley Card, Jones’ president and chief executive officer. “We believe that Asia remains a high growth region and the Asian consumer continues to respond positively to our footwear and accessory brands.”

Last year, Jones said rising incomes and economic development were supporting rapid consumption growth in China.

“While Asia has been impacted by the worldwide recessionary environment, this continues to be the case and underscores our decision to expand our presence in this region and increase our investment in GRI,” Card said Wednesday.

The privately held GRI has more than 600 points of sale, including franchisees, in 12 Asian countries. The firm also distributes brands such as Pringle of Scotland, Steve Madden and the Liz Claiborne Inc.-owned Lucky Brand Jeans.