Footwear firm Skechers USA Inc today (27 October) said it plans to double its business in Japan, one of its largest Asian Markets, over the next three to five years.

The Manhattan Beach, California based company is taking on direct distribution of its brand from Achilles Corporation and will set up a new subsidiary office in Tokyo.

Initiatives to build its brand into one of the country's top footwear companies include growing its offering of Skechers men's and children's lifestyle footwear, building the company's fitness division, expanding its consumer base through high-profile marketing campaigns, and opening new Skechers stores across the country.

"Skechers has tremendous potential to grow into one of Japan's biggest footwear brands," said Marvin Bernstein, managing partner of Skechers Sàrl. "The country has consistently emerged as one of our top five distribution outlets, year after year."

The brand, which has sold over 14m pairs in Japan in the last 17 years, has hired Hirokazu Iwasaki (veteran of Nike, Adidas and Puma) as Skechers Japan's representative director and country manager to launch and oversee its business operations.

"The launch of Skechers Japan is the latest step in our strategy to maximise our presence across Asia, as well as to grow our international business to be approximately 50% of our total sales," added Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers.

"Since we launched joint ventures in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in 2007, our presence in those regions has escalated. We believe Skechers Japan can become one of our biggest subsidiaries."

The company has just posted a 77% slump in third quarter net profit to US$8.3m, blaming tough comparatives with last year and falling sales.