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Tuesday, 13 March, 2001, 18:03 GMT
FCUK formula still paying dividends
French Connection advertising slogan
UK fashion retailer French Connection is to push ahead with expansion plans into the US and Japan.

The group's provocative advertising campaign, centred around the FCUK slogan, has helped it buck the current UK retail trend, with pre-tax profits of 19.1m, up 20% on last year.

The group shrugged off concerns about a possible US economic slowdown, announcing plans to open 300 stores, following its purchase last month of US chain Best of all Clothing Ltd.

It plans to repeat the FCUK formula across the US and Asia, despite evidence of the public taking offence in some countries.

Change wording

"We will definitely be expanding the volume of advertising based on a similar campaign in the US," chief operating officer Neil Williams said.

FCUK controversy
Campaign branded 'tasteless and obnoxious' by UK high court judge
Ads banned in Vancouver after bus drivers label them 'workplace harassment'
Singapore authorities call for them to be toned down
Conservative Future UK banned from using initials
Mr Williams said the company would concentrate its push into the Far East in Japan.

The group signed a three-year retail agreement with D'Urban Inc of Japan in November.

"We have used the FCUK campaign in Japan for the launch of the new store, adapted wording-wise but still in English," Mr Williams said.

'Tasteless and obnoxious'

The FCUK logo, created by high-profile adman Trevor Beattie, whose TBWA agency recently landed the British Labour Party's advertising account, is widely credited with turning the fashion retailer's fortunes around.

The company saw its profits increase by 84% in the first half of 1999, which it attributed directly to the launch of the campaign in Britain.

The British Advertising Standards Authority received 27 complaints about the logo on its launch.

And a British judge branded the campaign "tasteless and obnoxious" during a court case involving the company.

The launch of the campaign in Singapore caused widespread outrage, and the company was asked to modify it.

In March last year, the ads were removed from buses in Vancouver when bus drivers complained they amounted to "workplace harassment".

French Connection has also had to go to court to prevent would-be copycats, including the former young Conservatives organisation, Conservative Future UK.

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29 Mar 99 | The Company File
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