Deckers Outdoor Corporation has entered into a joint venture for the distribution of its popular Ugg Australia boot brand in China.

The joint venture will be owned 51% by Deckers and 49% by Hong Kong-listed footwear operator Stella International Holdings Limited, with plans for two store openings this year and wholesale distribution.

A joint statement said that the initial investment for the venture was $1m from each party in proportion to their respective ownership stake. The total investment is approximately $5m.

Angel Martinez, president and CEO of Deckers, said: "China has quickly become a dynamic market for US consumer branded footwear and apparel and we are confident that Ugg Australia's lifestyle message and product line will resonate very well in this new market.

"We have a long term relationship with Stella having worked with them for over 12 years and look forward to continuing to work closely with them in order to maximise the potential of this extremely compelling opportunity for our company."

Jack Chiang, chairman of Stella International, said, "We believe the Ugg Australia brand is the ideal vehicle to launch our first joint venture since our public listing late last year.

"With our extensive experience in footwear manufacturing and operation of over 100 high end Stella Luna and What For retail stores we are confident in our ability to quickly penetrate the market.

"In addition, this strategic alliance with Deckers will enable us to enhance our strong foothold in the consumer sector throughout Greater China."

Ugg Australia has become a major growth driver for Deckers, with first quarter sales to April up 83.6% to $54.8m.