GANT TO JAPAN: Gant Co. and Japanese wholesaler Hitomi Co. have signed a licensing and master franchisee agreement to bring the Gant brand to Japan for fall.

This story first appeared in the January 27, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

All of Gant’s collections, including ranges for women, men, boys and infants, will be sold at department stores and selected premium retailers. Sizes will be adapted to suit the market.

Hitomi also agreed to open a number of Gant flagships in prime Tokyo locations and other major cities in the region.

“The Japanese market is a sophisticated fashion and retail market and there is a great potential [there],” Gant chief executive officer Arthur Engel said in a statement. “The Japanese people have a great demand for strong prestigious brands from the West. With the largest degree of savings in the world and with its 126 million inhabitants, the Japanese market is very large and the people have great spending power.”

Masafumi Zushi, Hitomi’s ceo, added, “The strong brand image and genuine heritage of Gant makes it a very significant addition to our portfolio of brands like Chaps by Ralph Lauren and Jaeger.” — Evan Clark

VROOMING VUITTON: Sales of Louis Vuitton Japan Co. reached $1.44 billion, or 152.9 billion yen, in 2003, the highest in its 25-year history of doing business in Japan, according to the firm. This represents a 12.7 percent increase from 2002. “Lots of attractive new products in jewelry and watches, as well as leather goods, the opening of three stores and enhancements in customer service are major points of this sales increase,” said the firm. Last year, Vuitton opened stores in Roppongi Hills, Kochi and Wakayama in Japan. — Koji Hirano