NEW YORK — Zirh International Corp., the men’s U.S. skin care manufacturer and a division of Shiseido, has entered into a licensing agreement with French Connection Ltd., the U.K. apparel company, to manufacture and distribute men’s and women’s fragrances and ancillary products under the trade name FCUK.

Hiroshi Maruyama, chairman and chief executive officer of Shiseido, said that the company is "going towards a multibrand strategy. FCUK is exactly what we’re looking for, it’s a lifestyle brand for [people in their] 20s."

Zirh manufactures and distributes prestige skin care and fragrances that are sold in approximately 2,200 doors internationally. U.S. distribution includes Barneys New York, Sephora and Bloomingdales. Brian Robinson, president of Zirh International, said, "Zirh brought a lot of attention to the men’s grooming category and I see that with French Connection it is the same situation." He added: "Polo Blue, Chance and Crave are proving that those customers [Generation Y] do go to the department store and I think we will make a similar mark."

French Connection, the trendy fashion brand, distributes its women’s and men’s clothing, shoes and accessories in more than 80 countries and had sales last year of $350 million. Andrea Hyde, president of French Connection Holdings, Inc., said, "This is a big step. We have been very disciplined in our search for the perfect partner. Zirh is incredibly resourceful and, with the backing of Shiseido, will be the perfect global partner." She added that "French Connection is image focused and market based. It has a powerful personality and is in tune with the customer."

FCUK men’s and women’s fragrances will launch next fall in approximately 9,000 department store and parfumerie doors — in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East— as well as 100 French Connection stores. There are plans to roll out to about 40 countries within two years.

The FCUK fragrances will not be distributed in the U.K. and Republic of Ireland. French Connection has a partnership with Boots in the U.K. to manufacture and distribute its men’s and women’s fragrances and ancillary products.The men’s fragrance contains top notes of sangria accord and crushed herbs, middle notes of black sage, green peppercorn and hemp accord and a base of ebony wood and patchouli. The juice was created by Fragrance Resources. The women’s fragrance, created by Givaudan, has top notes of bergamot, muget and freesia, middle notes of jasmine, violet and ylang-ylang and a drydown of sandalwood and golden amber. The packaging was designed by Baron and Baron. Prices have not been finalized but may range from $35 to $47.50. Ancillaries will launch simultaneously with the fragrance and will include four for women and six for men.

FCUK looks like a major opportunity and industry sources estimate that the fragrances could generate $25 million worldwide in first-year retail sales.

Industry sources estimate that advertising spending may be as much as $5 million worldwide. It will include print and outdoor advertising, heavy sampling, a major launch party in New York and other special events.

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