Luxury leather goods company Coach is to buy the 50 per cent stake in Coach Japan that is currently owned by Sumitomo Corp for $300 million by the end of 2005.

Sumitomo, a Japanese trading house, and Coach have owned the joint venture -which comprises 104 outlets - since 2001.

Coach said the acquisition will enable it to capitalise on growth in Japan.

The company announced earlier this month that it aims to double sales in the Japan market to over JPY80 billion over the next four years, and push market share up from 8 per cent to 15 per cent.

Coach also reported today that its third-quarter earnings have grown, thanks to new handbag designs.

Earnings totalled $89.2 million compared to $58.3m a year ago, while sales grew to $415.9m from $313m.

Coach aims to open approximately 20 new retail locations throughout the US this year, and at least 10 in Japan.