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Smiley Inks Major New Strategic Partnership In Asia

/ -- LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM and HONG KONG, CHINA--(Marketwired - Apr 25, 2017) - The Smiley Company is delighted to announce a new partnership with Walton Brown. Effective April 1, 2017, Walton Brown is the exclusive licensing agent for Smiley in Greater China.

Walton Brown is a part of The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, Asia's premier fashion and brand management group which includes iconic, luxury department store Lane Crawford, cutting edge fashion boutique Joyce, fashion footwear, handbags and accessories specialist Pedder Group, retail, brand management and distribution company ImagineX and full-service retail and brand management business Walton Brown.

Walton Brown is engaged in the retailing and wholesaling of multiple prestigious international brands in the premium contemporary fashion segment including Juicy Couture, Kate Spade New York and Brooks Brothers with over 220 point-of-sales across 51 cities in Greater China and Southeast Asia. Under this new partnership, Walton Brown has been appointed by Smiley to not only identify and secure new license deals and brand collaborations, but to help structure distribution strategies of existing Smiley licensees in the region. Given the extraordinary industry network of Walton Brown and The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, this partnership will create tremendous opportunities for Smiley, including the MyMM App, a built-for-China social mobile commerce platform that connects customers, brands and curators, and is uniquely positioned to offer authentic and in-season fashion and lifestyle products from premium to luxury international brands and to target the emerging middle class in China. MyMM is jointly founded by Walton Brown (a company of the Lane Crawford Joyce Group), The Wharf (Holdings) Limited and eCargo Holdings Limited.

This exciting new partnership with Walton Brown has been created to fuel the continued growth and successes of Smiley in the region. Currently, successful retail partnerships with partners such as Bestseller Group, C&A, MetersBonwe and VF Corporation etc. have been driving growth in the region and increasing Smiley's retail footprint in Greater China to tens of thousands of doors, whilst prestigious pop-up stores with Liberation, and a longstanding promotional collaboration with MTRC, continue to build the visibility and profile of the brand. This new deal represents an enormous opportunity for the Smiley brand in terms of category and market expansion which is in line with the core business strategy of Smiley to further develop as a complete lifestyle brand across territories.

Speaking about the partnership, Smiley CEO Nicolas Loufrani said, "I would like to express my heart felt gratitude to the CEO of Smiley APAC, Danny Cheung and his team whom, along with our continued investments in trade and consumer marketing have contributed vastly to our past successes. Walton Brown will now provide a new platform for our development which shall take Smiley to the next level."

Thomson Cheng, President of Walton Brown, said, "We are very excited to be partnering with Smiley to further develop the brand in this market. Happiness is seen as a major consumer lifestyle trend. The Original Smiley brand, being an iconic symbol of positivity with 45 years of heritage and track record working with the biggest brands and retailers around the world, we believe the brand has enormous potential to grow in this market."

Smiley, the happiest brand ever, was founded by Franklin Loufrani in 1971 through a newspaper promotion to make people happy. Using the logo to highlight good news, it allowed readers to see the bright side of life throughout any day.

In May 1997, Nicolas Loufrani (CEO of The Smiley Company) started experimenting with Smileys to create graphic faces that corresponded to the pre-existing expressive emotions made from punctuation marks (ascii emoticons). Loufrani sat down with his designers in New York and created a dictionary of emotions that consisted of thousands of different Smileys, which he registered with the United States Copyright Office from 1997. When he published them on the internet in 1998, these became the world's first digital Smileys. This allowed The Smiley Company to create a new brand (SmileyWorld) that expressed thousands of emotions and that could be applied to a variety of products.

The Smiley Company is today one of the TOP100 licensing Companies in the world, with over 260 licensees globally generating annual turnover at retail in excess of $265 million and selling more than 23 million products year round. The Smiley trademark is registered in over 100 countries and in more than 13 product categories and according to a recent Toluna survey has 97% recognition across the world as a symbol of positivity.

Walton Brown is a company of The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, Asia's premier fashion and brand management group, which includes iconic, luxury department store Lane Crawford, cutting edge fashion boutique Joyce, fashion footwear, handbags and accessories specialist Pedder Group and retail, brand management and distribution company ImagineX.

Walton Brown is a full-service retail and brand management platform which partners with large-scale international brands to grow their businesses in Greater China by providing total geographic and channel coverage of the market including retail,

wholesale, e-commerce, travel retail and outlets. Walton Brown manages a brand portfolio including Juicy Couture, Kate Spade New York and Brooks Brothers in Greater China. Walton Brown also currently operates a chain of flagship luxury shopping malls as Maison Mode in Chengdu, Changsha and Urumqi representing over 320 brands across 900,000 square feet, and a value retailing business called Times Outlets in Chengdu and Changsha. Boasting a total floor area of 1,800,000 square feet, the two outlet complexes offer off-season luxury and designer fashion merchandise from over 230 brands.

Walton Brown has also established MyMM E-Commerce Limited in partnership with The Wharf (Holdings) Limited and eCargo Holdings Limited and launched a built-for-China social mobile commerce platform called MyMM in March 2017.

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