By  on June 7, 2007

TOKYO — Bluebell Japan Ltd. has signed a deal with Kenzo Japan K.K. to become the distributor and public relations agent for Kenzo brand's women's wear, men's wear and accessories, beginning with the spring 2008 season.

Kenzo Japan owns 12 shops, including 11 shop-in-shops in department stores and one freestanding store in Fukuoka, as well as two franchised stores, all of which will be taken over by Bluebell Japan under the deal. Kenzo's sales of imported products is about 2 billion yen at retail, or $164.2 million. When the transfer of business is complete, Kenzo Japan also will take charge of licensed products in Japan, including golfwear by Kosugi Sangyo Co. Ltd., eyewear by Charmant Group, linen and bedclothes from Nishikawa Sangyo Co. Ltd., and business development elsewhere in Asia.

Albert Lavia, Kenzo's chairman, based in Paris, said, "Except in Europe, our basic strategy is to find the best partner in each business area. We chose Bluebell Japan as it does not own brands which will conflict with Kenzo. With this partnership, we would like to aim for healthy growth in the Japanese market."

The main priority for the brand is to open a flagship in Tokyo; its flagship in Aoyama closed last January.

President and representative director of Bluebell Japan, Christophe de Pous, said, "Our prêt-à-porter brands are mainly Italian, like Moschino and Blumarine. As for French design houses, we had handled Rochas, but since the brand stopped doing prêt-à-porter, this zone was blank for us. It is a pleasure to have a big brand like Kenzo to work with."

Kenzo is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, as is Givenchy. Givenchy's distributor in Japan will change from Givenchy Japan to Third Culture Co. Ltd. this fall. The moves appear to indicate that LVMH has decided to outsource the handling of brands centered in ready-to-wear, instead of handling them through its Japan subsidiaries. Kenzo's partnership with Bluebell Japan appears to be part of that strategy.

"Since Antonio Marras became our designer with the 2004-2005 fall-winter season, the sales in existing shops are exceeding the sales in previous years," said Christian Piat, general manager and chief operating officer of Kenzo Japan. The decision to transfer the business was made to boost profits and sales via Bluebell Japan's wider network in the Japanese wholesale market.  —Akira Miura

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