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Replay Sets Sights on Asia, Product Expansion

Replay wants to spur growth in 2008 with the introduction of new licensed products and an expansion of its retail network in Asia.

MILAN — Replay wants to spur growth in 2008 with the introduction of new licensed products and an expansion of its retail network in Asia.

An innerwear line licensed to the Italian Gruppo Arcte, owned by Mariella Burani Fashion Group, will launch in January for fall-winter 2008 at Paris’ Salon International de la Lingerie, followed in the spring by a beachwear collection for spring-summer 2009 also produced by Arcte. In April, Replay will show its first watch and jewelry collection for men and women at the Baselworld Watch & Jewelry Show under a new five-year license with France’s Christian Bernard Group.

Also for fall, the brand will introduce its fragrance licensed to Procter & Gamble and a new back-to-school accessories line for its children’s line, Replay & Sons, produced and distributed by the Dutch company New Edition.

"We believe these licenses will help us communicate our brand and the Replay lifestyle," said Marco Bortoletti, chief executive officer of Fashion Box Group SpA, Replay’s parent company.

Bortoletti said he believes in licensing agreements "if there is communion of intent and views, strategies and method." Other existing licenses include eyewear with Marcolin and footwear with Hong Kong-based Sugi International.

Accessories, comprising belts, handbags and hats, account for 10 percent of sales in volume and about 6 percent in value, but Bortoletti said the company’s goal is to grow accessories to 20 percent of revenues. Last year, Fashion Box reported sales of 350 million euros, or $437.5 million at average exchange rates. The company is evaluating figures for 2007, but Bortoletti said year-end sales will be in line with 2006, a consolidation attributed to the recent streamlining of distribution in favor of a more selected network.

"We want to differentiate ourselves, and believe distinction pays off in the end," Bortoletti said.

Replay’s new product range calls for a concept store that will be unveiled at the end of January at its renovated Amsterdam space.

"We are not overturning the existing design, but new wall displays will allow us to better present our accessories," Bortoletti said.

The company is turning to Asia and China, in particular, to expand its business. During the last 13 months, the firm has opened 10 stores in China and plans to open 40 more units in the next three years.

"They are very attracted to our creativity and there is a strong desire to shop," Bortoletti said of the Asian market. "I see a dizzying growth every time I go there, about every six months. And you can see it. First it was cars, then it was homes, now it’s fashion."

Next year, the company intends to open flagships in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

"Currency exchange rates obviously weighed on our business in Japan, especially because our competitors there are American and the euro is stronger than the dollar, but we trust the situation will evolve in a positive way," Bortoletti said.

There are six stores in Japan. Replay is also banking on business in South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia. There are 14 stores in Asia and 15 stores in the Middle East. Next year, the company will also open a third U.S. store in Miami. The brand is available at 227 Replay stores and at 6,000 points of sale around the world.

For next fall, the company will launch the latest product in its Collectors collection called Replay Maestro Denim, a revisited five-pocket jeans with leather details manually applied. The style is dedicated to the late company founder, Claudio Buziol.

"There are 25 pieces inspired by the true American denim that charmed Claudio so much he decided to dedicate his life to this product," said Sergio Arreghini, the brand’s creative director.

This model retails at 170 to 220 euros, or $244 to $316 at current exchange, and will be available at Replay stores, high-end boutiques and specialty stores.