ITOCHU Announces Support Provision for Character Licensing Business Development in Southeast Asia

Expansion of Area where Moomin Brand is Exclusively Developed through Rights & Brands Asia Ltd.

May 9, 2024

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that the start of the provision of support for the development of the business for its licensing of the world-renowned character, Moomin*1 in Southeast Asia through Rights & Brands Asia Ltd. (headquartered in Hong Kong; Bianca Lee, CEO; hereinafter "RBA"), which is an equity-method affiliate of ITOCHU, following RBA's acquisition of exclusive rights to develop the brand in the region, in addition to in the China Market.

The animation and character IP merchandising business has been growing in Southeast Asia. The compound average growth rate of the Japanese character licensing business during the period 2017 to 2022 in the region is believed to be approximately 10.5%.*2 This is higher than the growth rate in Japan (2.5%) and Europe (9.7%) of the Japanese character business. It is expected that demand related to the business will continue to grow overseas.

Since it was established in September 2021, RBA has developed a Moomin licensing business in the China Market to increase awareness of the brand, such as the broadcasting and distribution of 3D animated television series and the provision of merchandise through nearly 100 licensees working with leading retailers. In addition to the China Market, RBA has recently acquired exclusive rights to develop the brand in 10 countries in Southeast Asia including Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia to further increase awareness of the brand.

ITOCHU has provided support to RBA to enable it to distribute videos featuring Moomin, develop merchandise and grow it Japanese character IP merchandising business in the China Market. It will start to support the Moomin licensing business in Southeast Asia by fully leveraging its global network. It will also provide support to local licensees, form alliances with leading retailers and help develop new IP merchandising businesses. Examples include productions managed by SKY Perfect Pictures in which ITOCHU participated in via an investment in April of this year.*3

Anime and manga have grown from a subculture into part of the mainstream culture, and both have become triggers for stimulating consumption. Through this business, ITOCHU will gain knowledge and expertise in the licensing business to provide new products and services that meet the diverse needs of customers in the core consumer related sector. ITOCHU also aims to further develop anime characters across the globe.

  • *1 Moomin: Story created by Finnish writer and painter, Tove Jansson (1914-2001).
  • *2According to a study by Signify Research.
  • *3ITOCHU news release on March 25, 2024:
    ITOCHU Announces Entry into the Animation Business Through an Investment in SKY Perfect Pictures Inc., a New Animation Production Company

Rights & Brands Asia Ltd.

Location Hong Kong
Representative Bianca Lee
Established September 1, 2021
Shareholders ITOCHU 38.5%, PPW 38.5%
R&B Licensing Holding (SPC by RBS and MC) 23%
Business description Licensing business in Asia (excluding Japan)