Gramicci, a U.S. company specializing in climbing, yoga and organic clothing, is eager to expand into new foreign markets in the coming years following a three-year apparel licensing agreement signed in July with the Hampshire Group, which should enable it to lean on a more efficient sourcing platform.

Paul Buxbaum is the chief executive and a director at the Hampshire Group as well as the chief executive of Buxbaum Group, which took over control of Gramicci in 2005 amid financial and sourcing issues. Buxbaum Group describes itself as an equity investment firm and a specialist in turnaround management. Hampshire Group's business includes partnerships with brands such as Dockers and James Campbell, for the production of sections of their apparel range.

Gramicci currently gets only about 20 percent of its turnover in international markets and most of that comes from Japan, where it has a licensing agreement with Itochu, the Japanese conglomerate. So far it has been focusing on apparel, selling Gramicci's organics range along with outdoor fashion apparel such as denim and corduroy pants in more than 1,000 Japanese stores.

Gramicci executives said at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City last month that Itochu was preparing to start selling a range of Gramicci footwear, which was on display at OR for a potential launch in the U.S. market. Another license held by Itochu covers outdoor bags, of which it has already sold more than one million units since their launch last year.

Gramicci tried to move into Europe with some structured distribution a few years ago, working notably through the Sport Alliance buying group in Italy, but did not seal any long-term partnerships. Instead, the company has been selling directly to a few European retailers, led by Bever in the Netherlands. The company said that the deal with Hampshire should make it more interesting for Gramicci to invest in the European market more consistently from 2016 on.