Liz Claiborne Inc. has a new hookup in Canada.

This story first appeared in the June 18, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The firm’s namesake brand, which J.C. Penney Co. Inc. will begin carrying exclusively in the U.S. in August, will be sold north of the border under a licensing agreement with Trimera Group’s Future Fashions division. The brand is currently sold in Sears Canada, but is not produced under license.

The agreement, which covers apparel, handbags and accessories for the Liz Claiborne brand, also includes men’s and women’s apparel under Claiborne’s Axcess label, which is sold at Kohl’s in the U.S.

Liz Claiborne will provide “select design services” for both brands, while Trimera will work on design, as well as production, distribution, marketing and merchandising. Trimera produces and markets a range of apparel goods worldwide, working with brands as diverse as Disney and Nickelodeon to Sean John and Nike.

A Claiborne spokeswoman said the arrangement “allows us to simplify our model and find better ways to reach the consumer and profitably manage the future of the iconic Liz Claiborne brand in Canada. It is a capital-free royalty that enhances our financial metrics.”

The deal focuses Claiborne all the more on its U.S.-based direct brands — Juicy Couture, Kate Spade and Lucky Brand — and Mexx, which is in the midst of a turnaround effort led by former Esprit executive Thomas Johannes Grote.

In January, Claiborne entered into an agreement to sell its 38 Liz Claiborne outlet stores in Canada to Laura Canada, a Montreal-based specialty retailer.

Another six outlets were slated for closure prior to or at the expiration of their leases. Net of taxes, the company recorded a $6.8 million charge from this transaction in the quarter ended April 3.

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