Kate Spade is to buy out its Chinese joint venture partner in favour of a new partnership with Lane Crawford Group.
Walton Brown, the brand wholesaling and retailing subsidiary of Hong Kong-based department store operator Lane Crawford, will team with Kate Spade in a major expansion of the New York brand into mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan in a new joint venture announced overnight, targeting 100 stores long term.
The newly formed partnership will leverage the expertise of Walton Brown, and the global demand for Kate Spade & Company products, to establish a strategic network of stores in key cities, enhanced by a robust organisational and marketing platform across China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Kate Spade’s current Chinese JV partner is E-Land Fashion China Holdings which owns 60 per cent of KS China Co Ltd. Next month, Kate Spade will pay US$36 million to buy out E-Land’s 60 per cent share in KSC.
The new partnership will align Kate Spade & Company’s existing businesses in China and Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan under one combined structure, owned 50-50 by the two parties. Kate Spade & Company and Walton Brown will actively manage the business together. The partnership will have an initial term of 10 years.
Kate Spade CEO Craig A Leavitt said the new partnership is a pivotal next step as Kate Spade continues to advance a key axis of its growth strategy – geographic expansion.
“Walton Brown is the right strategic partner as we position Kate Spade & Company for sustainable growth, allowing us to take a holistic approach to expansion, influence consumers and leverage resources across the Greater China region. Walton Brown’s relationships, operations and marketing expertise will help us create a cohesive foundation of stores surrounded by a vibrant ecosystem to help deepen our connection with consumers in Asia.”
Walton Brown president Thomson Cheng said Kate Spade already has strong appeal in the market, with strong growth potential.
“Together, we will build upon this momentum to establish a broader foundation and fuel Kate Spade & Company’s scale in the region. Drawing upon our best-in-class expertise and network, we look forward to partnering with Kate Spade & Company to enhance its global presence during this exciting time in the company’s transformation.”
Kate Spade’s distribution agreements with Valiram in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia and with AT Luxury in Thailand are not affected by these transactions.