NEW YORK — Anne Klein is planning an extensive push into Asia with a new licensing venture that includes three stores in Hong Kong and Shanghai opening this fall.

This story first appeared in the March 5, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Kasper ASL said on Tuesday that its Anne Klein division signed a licensing agreement with a subsidiary of Global Retail Inc. of Hong Kong to develop the Anne Klein New York and AK Anne Klein brands in Asia, specifically in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Among the initiatives included in the agreement, GRI is expected to open a freestanding flagship for Anne Klein New York in Hong Kong, located in its Central development, and two freestanding Anne Klein New York stores in Shanghai, this year. Anne Klein New York is the firm’s bridge-priced sportswear collection.

“Anne Klein has made such a strong comeback in America and is being positioned as a global brand,” Jeffrey Fang, chief executive of GRI, said in a statement. “Anne Klein is ready to become one of Asia’s premium designer brands.”

Anne Klein has several franchised stores in Japan and retail sites in Korea, and has also made a push into the European market with a London showroom since John D. Idol became its chairman and ceo. GRI also distributes Nine West and Joan & David in Asia.

The firm opened its first flagship in New York a year ago with first-year sales planned around $2.4 million. It was a prototype for a retail rollout. Other locations that have been talked about for this year include Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and on London’s Bond Street. As reported, mall stores are also scheduled, with plans for the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey, the Americana in Manhasset, N.Y., and Las Vegas.

In a separate development, Anne Klein also renewed an agreement last month with Luxottica Group to manufacture and distribute its Anne Klein New York and AK Anne Klein women’s ophthalmic frames and sunglasses. Luxottica has held the license for eyewear since 1996, covering worldwide distribution.

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