This leading British brand of hats and caps with the distinctive kangaroo logo, which is becoming more and more visible throughout Europe, generated about $100 million in wholesale revenues under its brand around the world last year, up 20 percent from 2002, and headwear represented 60 percent of the total, down from abut 100 percent a few years ago. This proportion is bound to decline further as David Heys, the former executive of Converse and Benetton Group who runs Kangol since 1999, is signing up more and more licensees in different product categories.

Footwear is expected to play a pivotal role in the development of this lifestyle brand. Kangol has granted the footwear llicense for Europe to FT International, a large 18-year-old British company that sources millions of pairs of private label footwear annually from China, with offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Its first collection, developed for Fall/Winter 2004/05, will be shown at the GDS fair in Düsseldorf (Hall 14) next month. FT is targeting about 200 accounts in the UK, including chains like Office, Size? and Schuh. Elsewhere in Europe, FT’s CEO, Graham Wick, is looking for qualified agents and distributors who know the footwear business, but possibly also current distributors of Kangol headwear, like its partner in Poland, which has agreed to take on FT's line.

Kangol signed up last year a footwear licensee for the USA, Geoffrey Allen, which is also the licensee for Perry Ellis shoes. The first US collection, which is very different from the European one, has been selling well in some Nordstrom stores and other accounts. It represents only about 10 percent of the assortment of the first single-brand Kangol store, which opened in New York 6 months ago. The store has been a success and another one will follow shortly, again concentrating on the headwear. A third US store is set to open there next September and some 60 percent of the items on display will be shoes.

In Europe, Kangol only has a factory outlet in the UK and a concession in the Selfridges department store in London, but the company is about to sign a retail license for the whole European market. It signed a few weeks ago a new apparel license with Cavden and it’s about to launch the first line of Kangol branded watches, licensed to Fossil. It already has licensees for bags, cosmetics and eyewear. The Asian market is covered by a master licensee based in Japan, Crown Creative, which has already opened 4 Kangol stores and is now looking at the footwear ranges of FT International and Geoffrey Allen to see whether it should do something in this sector, too.

Kangol, a hat company founded in 1938, was losing money with its factories in the UK, the USA and China when it was acquired by a British investment group in 1997. Heys, who owns a stake in the group, stopped the production and turned Kangol into a pure brand management and licensing company that is now generating strong profits. The global headwear business has been licensed out to a US company, Bollman Hats, and its sales are increasing steadily in many European markets.