Overseas brand development
In the 1970s, our Textile Company was amongst the first to start brand business by importing branded fabric for men's suits. In the 1980s, when Japan entered a bubble economy and high-end brand markets in Japan grew, we took this opportunity to diversify our revenue streams. One such stream was the licensing business, whereby we would acquire a comprehensive license and form sub-licensing alliances with the leading manufacturers of apparel, fashion goods and accessories. We continued to expand our portfolio, including sports brands, licensed brands for general merchandise stores, and major import brands. From around 1999 onwards, we began to acquire trademark rights and invest directly in brand-owning companies, in an effort to stabilize commercial interests on a long-term basis. We acquired a number of internationally recognized brands, including Hunting World, LeSportsac and Mila Schon, acquired trademark rights for Converse in Japan, and invested in Paul Smith Group Holdings Limited, among other initiatives. Looking beyond the clothing industry, we have added a new dimension in our brand business by expanding the business to the entire area of lifestyle categories. As the track record and expertise that we acquired along the way opened up new opportunities, we made the most of this positive cycle to increasingly roll out brands to other countries, focusing particularly on anticipated growth markets in Asia and other emerging countries.
In 2012, we acquired trademark rights for the Australian compression clothing brand "SKINS" in six regions in Asia, for the US casual bag brand "OUTDOOR PRODUCTS" in thirteen regions in Asia, four in the Middle East and two in South America, and for the US outdoor fashion brand "PENFIELD" in four regions in Asia, and began rolling out products in the region. Moreover, in 2014 ITOCHU invested in ASF Limited, a company that falls under the auspices of the Hong Kong-based Fenix Group Holdings Limited and has expanded its retail business throughout Asia, including operation of the luxury women’s fashion brand “ANTIPRIMA.” The investment has produced numerous synergies, such as widening our brand expansion in the Asia region.
We also started to expand our business of the US casual bag brand "LeSportsac", for which we hold worldwide trademark and distribution rights, to Brazil, Uruguay and other South American countries, and to six countries in the Middle East. We intend to continuously introduce brands to emerging markets, so that we can tap into anticipated growth and increase our consolidated profits in the future.