Hat World Corp., which was recently acquired by Genesco, Inc., and Mainland Headwear Holdings Ltd. have entered into an a 10-year license agreement to open and operate 200 to 300 stores in Hong Kong and China. Mainland is primarily a manufacturer and exporter of headwear.

The stores will open under the Lids and Hat World brands over the next five years.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The first Lids shop is to open in Shanghai in the first half of this year, according to a MHH spokesperson, with a total of 50 expected to open in the first year of the deal. MHH said it expects retail to account for at least 15% of its business by 2006. Mainland said they plan to invest HK$35 million in the retail venture.

In a local Indianapolis report, Hat World chairman and CEO Bob Dennis had hinted at further Asian expansion. He said that Hat World has started to explore markets in Asia because professional United States sports teams are very popular there.

“The Japanese and Koreans have an insatiable appetite for American baseball,” he said in the report. He reportedly said the company’s five stores in Korea were performing well.

The goods news in Asia may not be realized in Indianapolis after the Genesco acquisition. Another local paper is reporting that Genesco plan to keep the management team, but also plans to close an Indianapolis warehouse, consolidating it into a Tennessee warehouse after the Christmas holiday shopping season.

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