The Sportlifestyle company PUMA AG and the Japanese company Hit Union K.K. today announce that they have agreed in principle to form a joint venture as of January 2006, in which PUMA will become the majority shareholder. Hit Union is the current PUMA licensee for apparel in Japan and has been responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of PUMA apparel in Japan for over 30 years.
Hit Union combines deep local knowledge of the special Japanese textile market with an extensive manufacturing background. This joint venture will establish Japan as the 2nd largest market for PUMA and it immediately establishes PUMA in the top three brands in its segment in the country.
In 2003 PUMA bought back its footwear and accessories license in Japan and founded a fully owned subsidiary, PUMA Japan K.K. The aim of the joint venture is to have the critical Japanese business fully aligned under one umbrella while being able to continue to use the tremendous apparel expertise of its current license partner and thus to quickly explore the further potential of the PUMA brand in Japan.
Jochen Zeitz, CEO and Chairman of PUMA AG: "Hit Union have done an outstanding job with our business in the past, and now with our new partnership as well as our direct involvement in the management of all aspects of our brand, we will ensure that we jointly capitalize even more on future opportunities. Since Japan, and Tokyo in particular, is the epicenter of trends in the Asia/Pacific region, our focus is on further strengthening our position in this key market."
Katsuyuki Tanabe, President and CEO of Hit Union: "Over the past years, PUMA apparel has become one of the leading brands in the Japanese market. Now with this joint venture partnership we look forward to being able to further accelerate our growth and desirability throughout Japan."