FCUK boss to investigate underwear licensing deal

Fashion retailer French Connection is considering a licensing deal with an underwear business, which could lead to standalone FCUK-branded underwear stores.

Chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks sees licensing as a big growth area, after the success of the 'fcuk high maintenance' range and a shoe licence, both launched last year.

FCUK's latest licensed fragrance, in partnership with Zirh Skin Nutrition, has launched in the US and arrives in the UK in November. Marks said it is 'incredibly promising.'

He would not elaborate on details of his underwear idea, but analysts believed the strategy would work. RW Baird analyst Paul Smiddy said: 'Licence income represents an increasingly important treasure chest. It's a free marketing weapon with which to develop brand awareness in new territories.'

French Connection unveiled a strong set of interim figures on Tuesday, on the back of continued momentum in the UK and better than expected sales in the US. Group turnover for the six months to July 31 rose 12 per cent to£122 million, from£108.8 million, and pre-tax profit surged 33 per cent to£13.7 million.

The UK and Europe business delivered an 11.3 per cent increase in like-for-like sales.

Marks said lifestyle mail-order business Toast, which is 75 per cent owned by French Connection, is also doing well.

A second shop-in-shop is set to open in Harvey Nichols next year.