After a viral success in China for one of the Hello Kitty characters, the Japanese company behind Hello Kitty has entered into a licensing agreement.
Sanrio has announced that a unit from Alibaba, an e-commerce giant, will be granted exclusive rights to China for the manufacture and sale of merchandise featuring 26 of its characters.
After Sanrio's impossible rabbit Kuromi was featured in a viral Chinese social media video, the deal is now.
On Thursday, shares in Sanrio were almost 14% higher than they were in Tokyo trade.
According to the company, the Alifish licensing and entertainment business will be a five-year deal that will "further enhance Sanrio's character value on the Chinese mainland market".
This deal includes 26 characters Sanrio created, including Hello Kitty and My Melody, as well as the devilish Kuromi.
Kuromi gained popularity in China earlier this year after an influencer danced with outfits inspired from Sanrio characters.
Helenoftroy posted the video on the Douyin. This is the Chinese version of TikTok. She has over 14 million followers.
Kuromi is born on Halloween. She is described as a tomboy who is actually very girly. According to Sanrio, Kuromi enjoys writing in her journal and reading romance novels.
Hello Kitty is the Japanese cultural icon of "kawaii", or cuteness. However, the company claims that Hello Kitty is actually a British schoolgirl named Kitty White who lives outside London.
Since its creation, almost 50 years ago, the brand has earned billions of dollars.
Products branded with the trademarked mouthless cartoon and adorned with a hair bow are sold worldwide in 130 countries. The range of products includes plimsolls to prosecco.
Sanrio also has licenses for amusement parks, cafes, and in 2018, a Japanese railway company splashed the image onto its bullet train, painted pink and white.
Sanrio's business, which has been in decline for many years, was severely affected by the coronavirus epidemic.
Temporarily closing the stores and theme parks of the company in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19 was a result of these measures.
Sanrio's sales to China increased 39% to 4.7bn Japanese Yuan ($34.4m; PS28.4m), despite the restrictions. In the same period, its profits in China grew 19%.
The company experienced its first leadership change in six decades in 2020.
It was then that Shintaro Tsuji (now 92) handed control to his grandson Tomokuni Tsuji.
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