Japanese apparel company Itochu Corporation has signed a master licensing deal with Austrian athletic goods manufacturer Head Group for the manufacturing, distribution and retail of Head-branded goods in Japan.

The licensing business, which will come into effect from April 2005, will allow Itochu to make sublicensing agreements with apparel manufactures in order to expand the Head brand throughout the Japanese market.

Merchandise involved in the licensing deal includes skiing, snowboarding and golfing apparel.

The lines will retail at general merchandise stores, specialty casual stores and volume sports goods retailers, and will focus on the 20-40 year-old casual sportswear market.

The companies are targeting retail sales of  JPY13 billion for the first year of the business, and JPY20bn for the fifth year.

1950-established Head sells both 'fashion' and 'performance' lines under a variety of brands including the core Head brand.