August 28, 2019 / 7:08 AM / 21 days ago

UPDATE 1-Ted Baker seeks to propel growth in Japan with license deal

(Adds details on partnership, CEO and analyst comment, background)

Aug 28 (Reuters) - Britain’s Ted Baker Plc said on Wednesday it tapped Sojitz Infinity Inc, a unit of Sojitz Corporation, as its Japanese retail license partner to help push the fashion retailer’s long-term growth plan in Japan.

Ted Baker has 560 stores and concessions worldwide with five shops in Japan and Infinity aims to build on the group’s store portfolio, expand the concession network and invest in Ted Baker’s online presence.

Ted Baker, which flagged an “extremely difficult” start to 2019 in June, expects the partnership to add to its pretax profit in the current financial year.

Known for selling suits, shirts and dresses with quirky details and bright, block prints, Ted Baker reported its first drop in annual profit since 2008 in March as brick-and-mortar clothing chains suffered due to online competitors and as consumers reined in spending.

The partnership in Japan is one of the first expansion moves by Chief Executive Officer Lindsay Page, who was promoted to permanent boss in April as the high street retailer sought to move on from misconduct allegations against its founder and former top boss Ray Kelvin.

“It (the partnership) brings in a very credible, well established partner that can deliver long-term growth by building on the investment TED has already made to introduce the brand to Japanese customers,” said Liberum analysts, calling the deal sensible.

Ted Baker said it will move some existing Japanese assets to Infinity at no value, with exceptional deal related costs of about 4 million pounds ($4.91 million).

“Following our recently announced Joint Venture in China, including the Hong Kong S.A.R. and Macau S.A.R. territories, this completes the reorganisation of our Asian operations,” Ted Baker Chief Executive Officer Lindsay Page said.

The partnership, which is initially for five years, will begin in October, giving Ted Baker 17 retail licence partners across the globe.

$1 = 0.8145 pounds Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar and additional writing by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Arun Koyyur

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