By  on January 15, 2008

PARIS — Balenciaga is taking full control of its business in Japan, WWD has learned.The fast-growing fashion house, part of Gucci Group, has acquired the 51 percent of Balenciaga Japan previously owned by Restir, the retailer that had been its joint venture partner since 2006. Financial terms were not disclosed.Balenciaga Japan, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Gucci Group, operates five freestanding stores and sells ready-to-wear and accessories to about 30 wholesale accounts, including Restir, which will remain a "privileged partner" of the French brand, designed by Nicolas Ghesquière. Restir operates two large multibrand emporiums in Tokyo and one in Kobe.Japan has been a recent focus for Balenciaga, where the brand enjoys buzz, but whose business until 2003 had been handled by a distributor. Restir has rapidly expanded Balenciaga's presence across all categories.Still, Gucci Group sees significant further growth potential for Balenciaga in Japan. When Balenciaga first formed the joint venture with Restir, it was aiming for Japan to account for up to a quarter of its global business.

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