Luxury fashion brand Mulberry Group Plc is to end the joint venture with its US partner and instead take full control of the wholesale and retail sales of its products in the US market.

Mulberry said the deal would mean that its "increasingly important" online retail business could be consolidated with its operations in the US, creating a "simpler and more effective operation".

The joint venture was launched in 2000, under a partnership between Mulberry and a company owned by its largest shareholder, Challice Limited. However, the rights to sell online in the US were retained by Mulberry.

Mulberry USA operates five shops in the US, as well as the wholesale business, but has been hit by the economic downturn. Three of these shops will now close.

Mulberry has already assumed management control of the US operation, with the transaction costing an estimated $2.0m for the year to 31 March 2010.