Byline: Melanie Kletter

NEW YORK — Economic concerns in the Japanese market aren’t thwarting Coach’s plans to boost its presence there. The brand said it will open its first flagship in Japan in mid-2002.
While Coach already has 10 freestanding locations in Japan and is also sold in department stores, the flagship will be its largest and most comprehensive store in that country. The two-level, 5,400 square-foot store will be located on the corner of Harumi-Dori and Namiki-Dori in Tokyo’s Ginza section, a major shopping hub. It is modeled after the new Coach flagship in Chicago and will feature the brand’s full range of products, including handbags, luggage, outerwear, jewelry and leather goods, some of which have never been sold in Japan before.
The Coach business is well established in Japan, and has been a highlight of the company’s sales results in recent years, now accounting for about $100 million annually in sales, said Peter Emmerson, president of Coach International.
“The Japanese consumer is a key part of our evolution as a global brand,” Emmerson said Monday. “Japan is our largest market outside of the U.S. and we expect to double our sales there within the next two to three years.”
Coach, now publicly held, has been sold in Japan since 1988, but recently took steps to enhance its presence there. The company this year formed a joint venture with the large trading company Sumitomo Corp. to create Coach Japan Inc., and also purchased PDC, its primary distributor there. Company executives said Coach plans to open at least 15 locations in Japan in the next year, including a few flagships.
“The [Ginza] store will significantly enhance the Coach brand and is consistent with our strategy of aggressively growing market share in Japan,” said Ian Bickley, president of Coach Japan.
Coach now operates 194 stores, including 71 factory units. Opening stores has been a key part of Coach’s overall growth strategy and is expected to generate a significant portion of Coach’s earnings growth over the next two to five years, the company has said.

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