lee cooper: Reliance Brands JV bags rights of Lee Cooper

NEW DELHI: Iconix Lifestyle India, a joint venture (JV) between Reliance Brands and the Iconix Brand Group, has acquired the intellectual property rights of British denim wear label Lee Cooper for India. The distribution and manufacturing rights of this was previously held by Future Lifestyle Fashions, a Future Group company that runs Central and Brand Factory outlets. The development comes close on the heels of Reliance Retail Ventures, the retail arm of Reliance Industries (RIL), striking a deal with 7-Eleven to launch its stores across India, days after the Texas-based convenience store chain terminated its agreement with the debt-laden Future Group. “Lee Cooper also established very strong presence in the footwear market, so between Lee Cooper Clothing and Lee Cooper footwear, it’s been a very large, powerful business,” Darshan Mehta, MD at Reliance Brands and director on the board of Iconix Lifestyle India, told TOI. After the deal with Iconix Brand Group, Iconix Lifestyle India will become the licensor and will get the rights to appoint a licensee for the brand in the Indian market. Reliance Retail may become the licensee. “Lee Cooper terminated the agreement with Future Lifestyle Fashions few months ago,” said a senior industry executive. While US fashion company Iconix Brand Group is the parent of Lee Cooper, a brand which it bought from private equity firm Sun Capital Partners in 2013 for $72 million, Kishore Biyani-led Future Group has entered into an agreement with Reliance Retail for the sale of a majority of its assets, including Future Lifestyle Fashions to the latter for Rs 24,700 crore. The proposed deal has been opposed by US e-tailer Amazon which is embroiled in a bitter legal battle with the Future Group over alleged breach of contract. The Lee Cooper deal comes against the backdrop of Reliance picking up large stakes in desi couture brands, Ritu Kumar and Manish Malhotra. The JV owns 24 fashion and home brands from the Iconix portfolio for the Indian market across fashion, lifestyle and home.

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