Byline: KARYN MONGET
NEW YORK -- The Natori Co. plans to open a wholesale operation in the Philippines by November. The expansion to the Philippines was conceived by Josie Natori, the firm's president, who is originally from Manila and runs the New York-based company with her husband, Kenneth Natori, chairman.
A site for the wholesale operation, which will be in Manila, has not yet been locked in, but Josie Natori projected first-year sales at $1 million. She said the company also plans to open a retail boutique in Manila.
Natori said she sees a wholesale operation in Manila as a "great opportunity for growth" with existing accounts in southeast Asia and the potential to establish new accounts.
She said the wholesale operation will provide faster service and backup inventories for the firm's distribution licenses throughout southeast Asia.
"We'll also be creating licensed lines of apparel, accessories and home furnishings to be sold and marketed exclusively to the Asian market," said Josie Natori.
Natori's firm -- which has contracted manufacturing facilities in the Philippines since the its inception in 1977 -- is projected to generate total annual sales of $40 million this year, including licenses. The company is known primarily for its lines of daywear, sleepwear and licensed foundations under the Natori and Josie labels. It also has licenses for footwear, fashion jewelry and other accessories. Avon will introduce a Natori fragrance next spring. There are distribution licenses in Europe and a Natori boutique in Paris.
Natori also said that in January she was "so inspired" by the First Philippine Collections -- a showcase of apparel from Filipino fashion designers -- that on Nov. 18 she will present her first fashion show in Manila, displaying all of her apparel and accessories lines.
The event, to be held at the Philippine International Convention Center, will benefit the Philippine American Foundation, an organization that oversees community and rural development on the Philippine islands.
Additionally, Natori said, she met last week in Manila with executives from private enterprises and the Philippine government to discuss plans for Manila's first apparel market week in April 1995. "The local designers have so much talent that hasn't been recognized by the communities outside of the Philippines," she said.
She said other initiatives over the next two to four years include establishing programs for Filipino design students and creating a fashion design school that would be affiliated with the Fashion Institute of Technology here.