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Hanae Mori International Co. will sell most of its Hanae Mori-brand clothes and its licensed apparel operations to a group that will be formed by trading house Mitsui & Co. and the Rothschild group of Britain, company officials said Friday.

The company, scheduled to be set up by Mitsui and the Rothschild group along with their joint investment fund, Active Investments, will take over Hanae Mori’s directly operated shops and expand the chain in the U.S. and European markets, the officials said.

Hanae Mori, the pioneering fashion designer whose works were the base of the Hanae Mori International group, will concentrate on the exclusive haute couture business, they said.

The Hanae Mori group grew through the 1980s, posting annual sales of around 40 billion yen at the end of the decade.

Its business has since halved in scale, however, due to the prolonged recession in the domestic market and tough competition from overseas.

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