NEW YORK--Fast-growing Coach Inc. is embarking on some new frontiers.The accessories firm just signed an agreement with Case London Ltd. to open up to 25 Coach locations, including its own stores and in-store shops, in the U.K. and Ireland, and it also recently opened a flagship in Tokyo, its first flagship outside the U.S.Although Coach currently operates two sites in London--one freestanding store on Sloane Street as well as an in-store shop at Harrods--the company has only a small business in the U.K. and in Europe, and this agreement is part of an overall strategy to raise its presence in those markets. The two existing locations, which opened in the late Eighties, were overseen by Coach executives, but will now be managed and owned by Case, which is based in London and operates accessories and luggage stores under its own name."We essentially have no distribution in Europe and we see it as an untapped market for Coach," Andrea Shaw Resnick, Coach's director of investor relations, said Monday. "With our arrangement with Case, we will have a strong local distributor helping us raise brand awareness."Coach, which is publicly traded and has stood out from other public fashion firms in recent years for its robust earnings and sales growth, said it expects the new stores and locations to account for about $20 million in sales within the next three years. In the nine months ended March 30, Coach's total sales reached $548 million. Sales outside the U.S. were about $97 million.Meanwhile, Coach's first flagship in Japan, in Tokyo's Ginza section, is part of a strategy to boost its business in that country. This is the company's fourth flagship worldwide.Ian Bickley, president of Coach Japan, said he expects the store to generate the highest sales of any Coach store in the world. Japan accounted for nearly one-third of Coach's total volume in 2001.The 5,400-square-foot, two-floor Ginza unit was designed by Michael Neumann Architects and has an open environment showcasing a range of Coach products, including handbags, hats, jewelry and watches. Coach now has 205 stores in the U.S. and about 200 locations in other countries.""

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