By  on April 19, 2007

True Religion Apparel has tapped a new disciple to spread its message in the U.K.

The Vernon, Calif.-based premium denim manufacturer has reached an agreement with London's Four Marketing to become its new U.K. distributor, effective with the fall season.

"Four Marketing is the kind of business partner we seek to represent our brand as we take a methodical approach to growing our customer reach in the U.K., Europe and other key international markets," Jeffrey Lubell, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Michael Buckley, president of True Religion, said he believes the U.K. could become one of the company's largest markets outside the U.S.

"We believe this new distributor agreement significantly advances our goal of realizing the potential of and demand for True Religion products in this market, starting first in London and extending throughout England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland," said Buckley in a statement.

True Religion's previous distributor for the U.K. was Area 142.

Four Marketing has an extensive track record in the U.K., handling distribution responsibilities for brands such as Evisu, McQ by Alexander McQueen, Raf by Raf Simons and Superfine. The company plans to move True Religion into more than 250 retail doors throughout the market, including Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Selfridges.

While the brand has managed to make significant inroads in some international markets, mainly Japan, it has yet to make an impact elsewhere. According to the company's annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, sales in Asia, Europe, South America, the Middle East, Australia and Africa totaled $21.5 million in 2006, or about 15 percent of the company's $139 million in revenues for the year.

The firm has been moving aggressively to expand its offerings beyond premium denim and to open a chain of company-owned stores in the U.S. In the process of pushing growth, the company has invested heavily in new design and executive talent. There has also been a significant amount of activity in the company's executive ranks.

On March 8, True Religion appointed former Nordstrom vice president and corporate controller Peter Collins as chief financial officer, replacing Charles Lesser. Days later, it was revealed that Kymberly Gold Lubell, a vice president with the company and Jeffrey's wife, would be leaving. Gold Lubell told WWD in an interview that she is leaving to launch a high-end jewelry line and also confirmed the couple planned to separate.An April 13 regulatory filing detailed the cost of these actions. Collins will receive a base salary of $325,000 and be eligible for a bonus of up to 150 percent of that. Collins also received 50,000 shares of common stock and up to $115,000 for expenses related to his relocation from Seattle to California.

Lesser has been retained as a consultant from March 26 through Sept. 26, receiving $20,833.33 per month, as well as a lump sum payment of $340,000.

According to the filing, Gold Lubell has also come to a separation agreement with the company that granted her a lump-sum payment of $675,000. She agreed to consult with the company "regarding the transition of her duties to other employees" for two years at a cost of $30,208.33 per month.

The SEC filing also outlined the compensation packages of the company's five-person board, who will be up for reelection at the May 16 shareholders meeting. Each director receives an annual retainer of $35,000, $1,000 for each board meeting they attend in person and $500 for each meeting attended via phone. Directors are also eligible for additional benefits, such as being granted restricted shares of common stock.

Board member Joseph Coulombe, founder of the Trader Joe's grocery chain, earned $250,785 in cash and stock awards for his service in 2006. Mark Maron, a principal with real estate equity firm Birchmont Capital, received $263,285 in cash and stock awards. Robert Harris, president of Acacia Research Crop., received the lowest compensation package among directors in 2006, garnering $249,285 in cash and stock.

As chairman and ceo, Jeff Lubell received a base salary of $500,000 and a bonus of $825,212 in 2006. Including the awarding of common stock, options and other compensation, Lubell's total compensation exceeded $2.6 million for the year. Buckley and Gold Lubell each received more than $1 million in total compensation.

Shares of True Religion have fallen after reaching a high of $23.54 in Nasdaq trading on Oct. 16, 2006, and are currently trading at around $15 a share.

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