LeSportsac to accelerate Middle East retail growth via MEDFA sponsorship

LeSportsac’s Autumn/Winter 2011 advertising campaign

US fashion accessories brand LeSportsac is embarking on a serious retail drive into the Middle Eastern market following its success in the US and Asia Pacific.

The company is a platinum sponsor of the MEDFA conference later this month (21-22 November 2011) in Dubai, where it is seeking to forge partnerships with the major duty free operators in the region.

“After great success in the US and Asia Pacific area, for the year 2012 we are reinforcing our local business in Middle East countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, etc,” Regional Director Europe and Middle East Masaru Watanabe told The Moodie Report.

“We are specially focused on opening signature flagship shops in each country to establish a high brand presence and awareness for our future smooth penetration into each market in terms of retail and wholesale distribution.” LeSportsac already has 20 doors in the Middle East which achieved US$3 million in sales in 2010.

Speaking about the travel retail market, Watanabe continued: “Alongside reinforcing our local business, the duty free market is our really serious target [which we aim to achieve] by partnering with each strong travel retailer in every Middle East country. We are targeting Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah, Cairo, Kuwait, Oman, etc. Our goal for the total Middle East market is to make a US$30 million business for the year 2015, which is 10% of our current global sales, and to establish stable and high brand awareness among Middle Eastern people as a global brand from the US.

“With that as our goal, LeSportsac is now positively seeking to invest in this area aggressively, starting with a strong partnership (platinum sponsorship) with MEDFA,” Watanabe enthused.

Since acquiring the US brand in 2006, Japanese conglomerate Itochu Corporation has seen LeSportsac flourish in Asia, especially China, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

The brand has a flagship store on Madison Avenue, New York, a Japanese flagship in Ginza, Tokyo, and a recently opened flagship in Frankfurt, among others.

Over the past five years Itochu has been investing heavily in China, including the opening of stand-alone LeSportsac stores in cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Chongqing. LeSportsac now has 120 doors in the country that generate sales of US$33 million a year.

LeSportsac is also active in travel retail in China with eight duty free shops at the airports of Shanghai (two outlets), Beijing Terminal 3, Shenyang, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Dalian and Hangzhou, as well as Macau Airport and City of Dreams. A ninth PRC shop opened in 2010 at the new China Duty Free Group downtown mega-complex in Sanya on Hainan island which has been especially successful since April 2011 when the regulations were changed to allow Chinese holidaymakers to buy duty free goods at the store.

The brand is sold onboard a number of airlines, including Japan Airlines, China Airlines, EVA and Korean Air.

LeSportsac specialises in supplying handbags, travel bags, totes, backpacks and travel accessories made of high quality rip-stop nylon. The brand develops a continuous cycle of fresh and innovative patterns and limited-edition collections, which have included the Los Angeles-based Joyrich fashion brand in 2011, Swarovski Crystal Elements in Christmas 2010 and Stella McCartney in 2008.

In major product development news, the brand has unveiled a luggage collection for Summer 2012.

LeSportsac’s Autumn/Winter 2011 advertising campaign

About LeSportsac

US fashion accessories brand LeSportsac was founded by Melvin and Sandra Schifter in New York in 1974. In 2010, LeSportsac generated annual retail sales of over US$300 million with over 1,000 points of sale in 50 countries. By 2015, the company plans to achieve retail sales of over US$450 million per year from 1,500 POS in 70 countries. The brand has been owned by Japanese conglomerate Itochu Corp since 2006.

Food & Beverage The Magazine eZine