Liberty of London has signed its first licensing deal, the latest move in the department store’s attempt to become profitable.

Liberty chief executive Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye said the deal, with Italian manufacturer Slowear for its Liberty of London menswear business, marked a “new beginning”, which would give the brand scale and profitability overseas.

The department store, which moved a step closer to being bought by private equity business BlueGem Capital this week, reined in the expansion of the Liberty of London brand after closing down its standalone store in Sloane Street in June. Liberty of London creative director Tamara Salman exited the business in February.

De La Bourdonnaye said: “The fabrics part of the business and the store are profitable, online will become profitable this year and, with this deal with Slowear, that division will be profitable.”

He added that a licensing deal for its Liberty of London womenswear business would follow but that he was in no rush to find a partner.

Liberty broke into positive earnings before tax for the six months to June 30, recording earnings of £30,000, against a £2.7m loss in the equivalent period a year ago.

The Slowear 200-piece Liberty of London menswear collection will be sold in the Tudor-style building on Great Marlborough Street in London and a further 200 corners globally. This week shareholders voted in favour of a sale and leaseback of the landmark store and confirmed there had been a formal approach for the business by BlueGem Capital, which is backed by former Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity managing director Marco Cappello.