FCUK moots sportswear range in expansion plan

French Connection may launch a sportswear range and standalone sportswear shops as part of its plan to double the company’s retail space over the next three years.

In the first half of this year, French Connection posted pre-tax profits up 84 per cent to &£6.5m and a sales increase of 38 per cent to &£70m.

The company plans to double its retail space by 2002. There are 68 stores across Europe, North America and Asia, and 40 in the UK.

New store concepts, licence agreements and expansion into non-clothing areas will fuel the expansion. Spectacles, watches, cosmetics, fragrances, accessories and childrenswear are available already.

Sales of its menswear increased 80.6 per cent in the first half of this year. Standalone menswear stores are planned.

French Connection chief executive Stephen Marks says that the launch of sportswear clothing and stores is also being considered. He says: “We are looking at it. I would say it’s a possibility. The brand is going into other things that are going to help the business.”

But Marks says he has turned down the opportunity of opening French Connection cafes. He says: “We’ve just had an offer from somebody to do it {a café} but have decided against it. It’s not quite right at the moment.”

He was a major shareholder in Hard Rock Café and says: “Having been in the restaurant business, I know you’ve got to be careful with themed anything. “

However, Marks has received four offers to develop French Connection branded car projects and thinks that the idea would be “good fun”.

French Connection is sponsoring Lennox Lewis’ bid to become boxing heavyweight champion of the world. TBWA GGT Simons Palmer has created an fcuk advertising campaign backing Lewis.

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