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TOKYO-LISTED Mitsui & Co, one of Japan's largest general trading companies, has invested in local apparel retailer Triple Pte Ltd, both parties announced on Tuesday.
The deal inked last Monday will see Mitsui & Co take an equity stake in Singapore-based Triple, an omni-channel sports and lifestyle retailer that operates brand stores, shop-in-shop operations, wholesale distribution and e-commerce in key South-east Asian countries.
With roots that date back to 1876, Mitsui & Co is a Japanese company with over 140 offices in 65 countries, and is largely involved in the energy sector, though it also has businesses in fields ranging from chemicals, iron and steel, transportation and communications systems to food products and services.
Triple was started in 2014 as a wholesaler for American sportswear brand Under Armour with exclusive distribution rights for nine countries across Southeast Asia.
Since then, the company has opened five stores and shop-in-shop outlets in Singapore, three in the Philippines and three in Malaysia, all within shopping malls in prime locations. The company is currently planning further store openings in Thailand in July and in Vietnam by year-end.
The global apparel market is estimated to be worth about US$1.7 trillion, and is growing by 6 per cent annually. The South-east Asian market is particularly dynamic with a growth rate of almost 10 per cent per annum, driven by relentless population growth and the emergence of middle-class consumers.
With the global interest in health and wellness in recent years, coupled with increasing use of sports-branded apparel and footwear as daily wear, the sportswear category has become a key driver for the apparel market, say retail industry watchers.