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Iconix Licenses Cannon to Sears Holdings

Readies BBB Royal Velvet Debut, Offers London Fog

Fashion brand management firm Iconix Brand Group has licensed its Cannon brand directly to Sears Holdings, with the expectation that the former Pillowtex brand will be offered at retail in both Sears and Kmart stores.

Neil Cole, ceo, Iconix ceo Neil Cole said, "When we acquired Cannon our key objective was to solidify a larger distribution for the brand, which we are confident that Sears and Kmart will provide."

Douglas Wurl, vp/gmm home fashions at Sears Holdings, said, "We conducted extensive consumer research prior to finalizing this partnership and Cannon rated extremely high in brand awareness as well as has a high level of perceived value."

Iconix has also confirmed that Bed Bath & Beyond will launch an exclusive Royal Velvet product line this spring, declaring, "The exclusive product line will capitalize on Royal Velvet's leadership position as a color authority and include towels, rugs, sheets, shower curtains and basic bedding."

Li & Fung is the lead licensee for Royal Velvet and will develop and manufacture the product, the company said, adding that Mohawk Industries is the licensee for Royal Velvet bath rugs.

Cole pointed out, "We are committed to investing in advertising and marketing to build Royal Velvet at Bed Bath & Beyond."

At this month's New York Home Fashions Market, meanwhile, Iconix announced that its licensees Westgate and PEM America were preparing their initial collections of home furnishings for London Fog, the venerable outerwear apparel brand.

Westgate will launch a collection of bedding including fashion comforters and decorative pillows; bath and window coordinates that will preview in mid-April, according to Tom McElroy, vp product development for Westgate.

PEM America offered throws, blankets, down comforters, and sleep pillows at this market, Iconix said; PEM America declined to discuss the company's London Fog product line.

The Westgate collections "will represent a wholly new vocabulary from a design standpoint for us," McElroy related. "We're now in the developmental stage and we're working on designs based on London Fog apparel looks — plaids, reversibles, detail stitching, buckles, toggles, belt looping — a tailored look."

Fabrics in the Westgate collection will include yarn-dyed woven plaids, brushed cottons, and microfiber polyester. Prices will be aimed at the mid-tier range, McElroy said.

For Westgate, the London Fog brand "offers us a bridge to getting our great value message across even quicker than before," said David Li, Westgate ceo. "We already have great perceived value across our product lines."

Kimberly Lee Minor, vp of brand management at Iconix said, "Adding home as a category to London Fog is the natural progression of building this label from a historically outerwear brand to a major lifestyle brand."

The tagline on all advertising, Minor noted, will emphasize the message that the brand is more than outerwear: "Weather or Not."

Iconix also reported its full-year 2007 earnings, which were about twice the profit the company earned in the prior year. Net income of $64 million was up 96% over the $32 million profit in 2006. Revenues too, nearly doubled, up 98% to $160 million.

Cole noted, "2007 was our third year solely as a brand management business and the third consecutive year in which we doubled licensing revenue and earnings. The fact that we were able to achieve this in what has become a very challenging retail environment demonstrates the resilience of our business model, which has no inventory exposure and is supported by contractually guaranteed revenue and a diverse portfolio of 16 brands."

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