JD Sports Fashion is understood to have signed a licensing deal with men’s young fashion brand Nickelson, further adding to its growing brand portfolio.
The retailer is thought to have inked a deal to design, produce and sell Nickelson under licence from Ben Sherman Group. This would bolster a portfolio that includes men’s young fashion brands The Duffer of St George and Sonneti. The move is understood to have prompted the departure of two members of Nickelson’s staff.
It is not known whether Nickelson will continue to serve its existing stockists or whether the brand will now be exclusive to JD stores, in the same way that The Duffer of St George and Sonneti went on to become JD own labels after being bought by the sportswear giant.
Carly Syme, retail analyst at Verdict Research, said it was likely that JD would take an exclusive approach.
By expanding its brand portfolio through acquisitions and licensing deals, JD could boost its offer by having a plethora of exclusively owned young fashion brands.
Syme said: “JD is looking at ways to increase its sales. It has got the money to invest, so it will help smaller brands to expand and grow, but there is a worry that the brand could over-expand and then lose that uniqueness.”
JD has been on the acquisition trail over the last year, snapping up men’s young fashion brand Fly53 to sit within its design and licensing Focus Group division earlier this month.
In the past year, JD has also bought the trading assets of Spanish sports chain Sprinter, menswear brand Peter Werth and streetwear brand Fenchurch, as well as sports chain Champion in the Republic of Ireland. In January, it bought the assets and trade of Blacks Leisure, which owns the Blacks and Millets chains, from administrator KPMG.
Drapers reported last June that Ben Sherman was preparing to put Nickelson on the market as it did not fit in with Ben Sherman’s plans to become more premium.
Both JD and Ben Sherman declined to comment.