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NEW YORK CITY-Coach Inc., a purveyor of accoutrements for the carriage trade, has unveiled plans for yet another “flagship” store—the term the retailer uses for its standalone operations—in Japan, its seventh in that country, and the first in the major Pacific coast city of Nagoya, between Tokyo and Osaka. The new store will also represent another flagship outside of the Tokyo area, all of which have been opened since the middle of 2004.

“Nagoya is expected to be one of the highest-volume Coach locations in Japan, and will represent our fourth flagship location outside of the Tokyo area, following locations we will have opened in Sapporo, Osaka and Sendai during the last six months,” says Ian Bickley, president and CEO of Coach Japan Inc. “Our sales and market share gains in Japan have been dramatic, as our business has grown rapidly during the last few years.”

Though generally regarded as difficult to crack, especially in light of the decade-long sluggishness in the economy that’s only now abating, Japan is nevertheless a highly coveted market for luxury goods, since brand loyalty is often fierce among the Japanese. Until recently, most of Coach’s business in Japan has been at boutique locations within established department stores.

“Accelerating our flagship openings—notably outside the Tokyo area—is a key part of our strategy to grow our market share in Japan, along with expanding highly productive shop-in-shops,” says Lew Frankfort, chairman and CEO of Coach Inc. “Nagoya in particular is a market where the Coach brand is underdeveloped and therefore represents significant potential.”

The Coach store will be located on Nagoya’s Ohtsu-dori, a well-known street within Sakae, one of Nagoya’s busiest shopping districts, and is expected to open in the spring of 2005. The 7,800-sf store on four floors (large for Japan) is being designed by Coach in collaboration with architects Eight Inc., and will be the first free-standing building occupied entirely by Coach anywhere in the world.

Overall, Coach is doing well. Yesterday, it raised its quarterly sales forecast on based on strong holiday sales, especially its handbags and women’s accessories. Coach now expects sales for its second fiscal quarter (ending Jan 1) to rise 25% over last year, up from a previous forecast of 23%. The company will release its second-quarter sales numbers on Jan. 12.

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