RICHARDS MAY GO TO CHINA

Byline: Katherine Bowers

LOS ANGELES — Moderate career-apparel player John Paul Richard Inc. might be positioning itself for a major retail presence in China.
Industry sources say the Calabasas, Calif.-based manufacturer is on the cusp of signing an aggressive retail licensing deal calling for between 200 and 300 John Paul Richard stores to bow in China over the next three years.
According to sources, the licensor would likely be Hanghou, China-based Hempel Corp., among China’s largest apparel producers. Sources also said Fever Jeans, the trendy contemporary label that John Paul Richard acquired in May, stands to be included in such a license. Fever would likely get a rollout of its own boutique concept.
Executives at John Paul Richard declined comment.
If a deal is signed, it would mark the first branded retail units for both of these labels. Industry observers cited China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, its strong moderate career business and its growing appetite for Western fashion as selling points of such a deal.
John Paul Richard also has been active on the domestic front, signing on to back a new venture from former Laundry by Shelli Segal president Rea Laccone and former Tahari president Christopher LaPolice, as reported. The two are expected to launch a casual sportswear line early next year.
The company produces Uniform John Paul Richard, a career line sold at Macy’s and Robinson’s May, as well as Studio JPR, a casual lifestyle line sold at Mervyn’s. Company revenues hover at $120 million, according to sources.

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