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Juicy Couture’s Global Push Starts With Asia

Authentic Brands Group has locked up a long-term distribution agreement with the ImagineX Group to accelerate growth in Greater China and Southeast Asia.

Authentic Brands Group is pushing hard to expand Juicy Couture’s presence globally.

The brand management firm, which owns the rights to the intellectual property of the Juicy Couture brand, has locked up a long-term distribution agreement with the ImagineX Group to accelerate the growth of the Juicy Couture brand in Greater China and Southeast Asia.

ABG expects to ink five more distribution agreements for other territories around the world over the next few weeks, and is in negotiations with potential partners to expand Juicy in five countries where the brand doesn’t yet have a presence. Some potential partners ABG is in talks with are existing distributors of the Juicy brand, while others would be new ones.

ABG in April signed with The Folli Follie Group to handle the exclusive wholesale and retail distribution rights for continental Europe, where there are 24 stores, including outlets, across the region. A 25th store will open in mid-September in Greece in the Thessaloniki City Center at the Attica Department Store.

ABG acquired the Juicy brand last year from Kate Spade & Co., formerly Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., for $196 million.

According to Jamie Salter, ABG’s chairman and chief executive officer, all overseas full-price stores, shops-in-shop and outlets, as well as the e-commerce site that just relaunched, carry the core Juicy Couture Black Label Collection. The brand is distributed in 58 countries.

Interest in the Juicy brand is particularly compelling overseas, Salter said, because of consumer demand for authentic American brands that have been invented in the U.S. and designed here.

Li & Fung Ltd.’s Global Brands Group, which is set to go public in Hong Kong today, is responsible for the design and manufacture of Juicy’s apparel products. ABG has licensing deals with Steven Madden for footwear, Elizabeth Arden for fragrance, Movado for watches, Safilo for eyewear, Contour for tech accessories and Swimwear Anywhere for swimwear.

In the U.S., ABG will be opening new Juicy concept stores next year that will carry Black Label. The existing sites operated by Juicy’s former owner are in the process of being shuttered.

Separately, Juicy will be introducing a lower-priced line, Pink Label, in select midtier department stores in the U.S. by the end of this year, according to Salter. “The Pink Label will feature sportswear and footwear collections,” the ceo said. He added that Pink Label will likely expand to Canada and in select international markets next year “where it makes sense.”

ABG’s long-term partnerships typically run for an initial period of 10 years, followed by two option periods of five years each. The ImagineX partnership allows it to open Juicy stores across Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

ImagineX is the distributor for the Juicy brand, but its agreement since 2007 was with its former owner.

Under the terms of the new agreement, ABG and ImagineX are evaluating possibilities to add to the current product offerings, such as intimates and Juicy Couture Girls. The latest category addition, footwear by Steve Madden, will be available in Asia in the spring.

ABG told WWD last month it is eyeing freestanding stores overseas for intimates and girls, responding to requests from its partners for concept stores in those categories.

There is a network of 85 stores in the region consisting of Greater China and Southeast Asia.

As for its partnership with ImagineX, Salter said, “We look forward to working with ImagineX to further accelerate Juicy Couture’s growth in Asia, consistent with our long-term goals for the brand in global markets.”

Thomson Cheng, managing director of ImagineX, said, “Juicy Couture’s business is thriving in Greater China and we’re excited to be working with ABG to implement its lifestyle vision. We see great potential for the brand expanding into the highly prized footwear category, and creating new opportunities in contemporary fashion intimates and girls collections that are to date untapped in this market.”

Next up on the international front are partnership agreements with MAF, or the Majid Al Futtaim Group, for the Middle East; JamilCo Group for Russia; Rustan’s Group for the Philippines; the Handsome Corp. for South Korea, and the Demsa Group for Turkey, according to Salter.

ABG is also in discussions with El Palacio de Hierro for its Mexican partnership and is in negotiations with two potential partners for parts of Latin America. Other negotiations include similar agreements for India, Israel, Japan, South Africa and Australia and New Zealand.

Salter said many stores will be flagships first, followed by shops-in-shop, and then where allowed, outlet locations. “With our retail partners around the world, we have in excess of 200 retail points of distribution,” Salter said.