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Marc Jacobs Changes Japanese Strategy

Designer enters joint venture with Sumitomo.

NEW YORK — Marc Jacobs International is looking to further expand its Japanese business with a new partner.

The company and Sumitomo Corp. are creating Marc Jacobs Japan KK, an equally owned joint venture that will start distributing the Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs lines throughout Japan from July 1.

The new entity, expected to be incorporated soon, will take over the existing retail network for the labels Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs when the current distribution and licensing deal with Look Inc. and Mitsubishi Corp. ends on June 30. With Sumitomo, the plan is to amplify the presence of the two labels throughout Japan.

“We share the same vision of Marc Jacobs brands, and we both believe in the tremendous development opportunities for our lines in Japan in the coming years,” Bertrand Stalla-Bourdillon, chairman and chief executive officer of Marc Jacobs International, said of Sumitomo. “Marc Jacobs is willing to strongly increase its presence in this country.”

Stalla-Bourdillon added that the company has chosen to “drastically increase investments in the brand in Japan and concentrate on import, developing further the accessories, [while] still keeping a strong emphasis on ready-to-wear. We have reached the conclusion that another setup is needed.”

Currently, the brand is sold in almost 50 distribution points in Japan, ranging from freestanding stores to concessions within department stores.

Sumitomo Corp., with Tokio Marine Capital Co. Ltd., also owns Barneys Japan, and has stakes in media, including television.

“Marc Jacobs is one of the most distinct and authentic brands out there in the market today, and Sumitomo is happy to announce this new relationship where we will bring our expertise in addressing a young clientele through our cable TV operations and contents,” said Shigeru Ohashi, executive officer and general manager of Sumitomo’s lifestyle and retail business division. “We believe that this partnership will be very successful in further increasing the value of the brand in Japan.”