Esprit is actively looking for a footwear licensee for the U.S. market to replace Nine West, with whom it had a relationship through 2004. The management hopes to find the right fit before the current fiscal year ends next June, although this may prove difficult. Nine West was not in the running, though it’s not clear which company said no.

The Hong Kong-based group’s edc by Esprit brand, which is aimed at consumers in the 18-20- year-old range rather than the 28-year-old target of the Esprit brand, will be strengthened by the recent launch of an edc range of shoes and accessories. The edc line’s total turnover increased by more than 40 percent to 20.1 percent of group sales in the financial year ended last June 30.

The edc brand was established by Andreas Adenauer, who just left the group, after ten years of collaboration, to become chief executive of O’Neill (more in Sporting Goods Intelligence Europe). His latest function was managing director of Esprit North America. Esprit continues to be very committed to the edc brand, which will act for the first time as sponsor of this year’s MTV Music Awards, including the final prize ceremony in Munich next Nov. 1.

In the past financial year, Esprit’s sales of footwear and accessories rose by 29.7 percent to HK$1.57 billion (€147.6m-$201.4m). The overall turnover increased by 26.9 percent to HK$29.64 billion (€2785.7m-$3802.5m), while net profit went up by 38.6 percent to HK$5.18 billion (€486.8m-$664.5m). The group is sitting on HK$5.23 billion (€491.5m-$671.0m)in cash, enough to fund an acquisition, but says it will not spend the money just for the sake of spending it.