January 3, 2013 / 11:36 AM / in 5 years

UPDATE 1-Ferragamo ups stake in Chinese distribution JVs

* Ups stake in joint ventures to 75 pct from 50 pct

* Follows similar deal with Chinese partner Trinity (Adds detail, background)

MILAN, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Italian shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo has raised its stake in distribution companies operating in China as part of a strategy to strengthen its position in Asia.

Ferragamo said on Thursday it had increased its stake in distribution joint ventures with Imaginex Holdings and Imaginex Overseas to 75 percent from 50 percent and renewed distribution agreements until the end of 2019.

The move followed a similar deal with Chinese distribution partner Trinity last year and points up the importance for global luxury names of tightening their grip on distribution and supply networks to boost profit.

European luxury companies such as Burberry, LVMH and Prada have withstood the global slowdown as demand from fast-growing China and other emerging markets offsets wobbling sales in Europe and the United States.

The maker of shoes worn by Hollywood stars such as Angelina Jolie and pop queen Lady Gaga already has more than 100 sales points in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

Hong Kong-based Imaginex Group is controlled by Peter Woo and his family. Woo has a 6 percent stake in Ferragamo. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Antonella Ciancio; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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