Lotto Sport Italia will have a new partner for Japan as of January 1st 2004 – Kanematsu Textile Corporation. The licensing contract will have a 3-year duration (01 January 2004 – 31 December 2006) and will be valid throughout Japan.

Kanematsu Textile Corporation will take the place of the current licensee, Royal Corporation. The Japanese market is a very important key from the commercial and image point of view. Thanks to this licensing agreement, Lotto Sport Italia aims to increase its brand penetration in Japan. The objective is to achieve an 8 to 10% share of the football market and a 5 to 7% market share in tennis in three years.

Moreover, the company has set itself the objective of reaching a sales turnover of 6.500.000.000 Yen (48,964 million €) for 2006 (including leisure sales). To meet this goal, Lotto Sport Italia and Kanematsu Textile Corporation have devised a strategy which includes realizing collections that are increasingly in line with Japanese consumers'' tastes and needs, improving distribution, increasing the average price and creating targeted communications initially directed at the trade and sportspeople who play football and tennis.

Sales of the performance line will be split between the retail and wholesale channels. Sales of the Leisure product, through the Vintage lines in particular, will be entrusted to specialised distributors. This distribution formula will allow Kanematsu to focus on selling the performance products – Lotto Sport Italia''s core business -, a segment in which the company counts on gaining a market share that will allow it to gain the number four position in football and five-a-side footwear and the number seven position in tennis footwear in 3 years'' time.

“Japan has always been a key market in the worldwide business development of any company in any sector,” explained Andrea Tomat, President of Lotto Sport Italia. “In Lotto''s case this applies all the more because Japan has total football footwear and clothing sales of around 34.350 million Yen (259 million €) while the figure is 42.230 million Yen (318 million €) in the tennis shoes and clothing market. It is precisely because of the opportunity of growth in sales turnover that we have decided to entrust our Japanese business to the professionalism and experience of Kanematsu Textile Corporation,” Tomat continued.

“Furthermore, Japanese consumers'' purchasing decisions also impact sales trends in China and Korea, markets in which Lotto Sport Italia has always been present. This trend has also moved into the European markets which are now increasingly influenced by Japanese trends and this explains the importance and credo of the Japanese market in Lotto''s worldwide plans,” concluded Andrea Tomat.

Kanematsu Textile Corporation (one of the 9 sôgô-shôsha or general trading companies, with total 1995 sales of 5.085 billion Yen – 38,3 billion €), became an independent company of the Kanematsu Corporation in 1999. While it is still controlled by the parent company, it benefits from total management autonomy. Kanematsu closed the taxable year (31 March 2002) with a total sales turnover of around 96.316 million Yen (725,6 million €). In order to implement the Lotto “project”, Kanematsu Textile Corporation has set up a special organization involving a total of around 30 people, with head office in Osaka and offices and the show room in Tokyo and Osaka.