Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 363, December 1999

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American Companies in Japan


REFLECTIVE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. gave ITOCHU CORP. the exclusive right to import and sell its safety-enhancing illumiNITE reflective fabric. The process developed by the Cambridge, Massachusetts company treats the entire surface of a roll of fabric with a reflective coating that yields attractive activewear or outerwear for daytime use but that creates a silhouette image of the wearer at dawn, dusk or night. Itochu will market illumiNITE to manufacturers of activewear and outerwear, aiming for sales of $952,400 in the first year and $4.8 million in the third.

Although not the best-known of its varied businesses, PLAYBOY ENTERPRISES, INC. markets a large collection of Playboy-brand clothing and accessories. Many of these items will be available in Japan starting with a fall/winter 2000 line under a master licensing deal that the Chicago-headquartered firm signed with MITSUI & CO., LTD. The agreement authorizes the trader to manage the production, sale and distribution of such products as sportswear, activewear, underwear, bags, small leather goods and costume jewelry to department stores and other outlets. Mitsui also will open freestanding Playboy boutiques to better reach the target Playboy audience — trend-conscious, 18-to-30-year-old men and women. The first Playboy boutique should be operational in the fall of 2001. Mitsui expects to build the Playboy clothing and accessories brand into a $95.2 million business over three years.

In a transaction that raised $25 million in cash, strapped athletic footwear manufacturer and marketer CONVERSE INC. sold all of its nonfootwear trademarks in Japan to ITOCHU CORP. An affiliate of the trader had been a Converse licensee for several sportswear and accessory products since 1993. The North Reading, Massachusetts company said that it planned no changes in its Japanese footwear operations.

An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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