The Saks Department Store Group today announced it has obtained exclusive North American rights to use the 'Laura Ashley' trademark in certain women's apparel and accessory categories.

The agreement, which applied outside of speciality retailer Laura Ashley Inc's owned stores, gives Saks the right to produce and sell misses, petite and large size sportswear, dresses, swimwear, and outerwear, as well as accessories (leather handbags, small leather goods, and jewellery) bearing the Laura Ashley name.

Laura Ashley apparel will be introduced into approximately 125 Saks Department Store Group (SDSG) stores in autumn 2002, with accessories introduced into approximately 125 locations in autumn 2003. Management expects that Laura Ashley apparel will be in all SDSG stores by autumn 2003, and that Laura Ashley accessories will be in all SDSG stores by autumn 2004.

George Jones, president and chief executive officer of Saks Department Store Group, noted: "The name Laura Ashley has tremendous brand equity and recognition, and it is synonymous with classic style and quality. We are extremely excited about this partnership which supports our strategic direction for SDSG by providing distinctive and differentiated product offerings to our core customers."
Saks Department Store Group, which is operated by Saks Incorporated, consists of 41 Parisian specialty department stores and 203 traditional department stores under the names of Proffitt's, McRae's, Younkers, Herberger's, Carson Pirie Scott, Bergner's, and Boston Store.

Laura Ashley is an internationally recognised retailer of home furnishings and women's and children's clothing and accessories in the classic English country style.