FINITY INKS JAPAN DEAL, EXPANDS CHINA PLANS
Byline: Anne D’Innocenzio
NEW YORK — Finity Apparel Group continues to look abroad for growth.
Having already established a beachhead in China, Finity signed an agreement on Monday with Seiyu, a Tokyo-based department-store chain, to develop 15 to 20 new in-store shops over the next 12 months. Jason Tynan, chief executive officer, projected $6 million in sales at retail during the first year of the deal.
Tynan foresees the Japanese business as eventually generating anywhere from $50 million to $100 million. The company is also in talks with Dunnes, a retailer in Ireland, to develop in-store shops there.
The better contemporary sportswear company has a licensing agreement with a vertical manufacturer in China and has a combination of 100 freestanding and in-store shops there as well. Tynan said plans are in development to have a total of 300 to 500 stores within the next three years. The focus will be on freestanding stores ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 square feet.
One impetus behind the most recent push was last month’s move by the House of Representatives to grant China normal trade relations status on a permanent basis, he said. PNTR still needs Senate and presidential approval; most signs point to its passage.
“This helped us make the decision to go forward,” said Tynan.
By yearend, Finity should generate $25 million to $30 million in sales at retail in China, he said, and sales should double the following year. Tynan believes that Finity’s business in China could be several hundred million dollars over the next couple of years.
Last year, Finity Apparel, which produces the contemporary Finity Studio line, and Finity Naturals, an unconstructed collection, posted overall sales of $175 million. About 40 percent of the business is from overseas, but Tynan believes that the figure could be up to 70 percent, given the potential in China.
Going the retail route, Tynan noted, is the best way.
“With department stores, you can’t market the product exactly the way you want to market it.”
China, he said, represents an “untapped area” and is not as competitive as the U.S. He added that there is a strong desire among young Chinese career women for inexpensive, modern-looking fashions. Finity jackets retail for $120 in China. In the U.S., they sell for $200.
The company broke its first advertising campaign in China for spring 1999, with ads appearing in the Chinese versions of Elle and Glamour. It also has billboards in Han Ghou and Beijing.
Tynan pointed out that the company has to pay attention to the differences in fashion tastes between American and Chinese women.
“You have to be careful of the lengths. It can’t be too short or too long,” he said. “And Chinese women don’t like bare arms. They also don’t like to wear color from head to toe.”