Shares in leading fashion retailer Esprit Holdings Ltd soared to record levels on Monday after it gained full ownership of the Esprit brand worldwide and trademark rights in the US and Caribbean.

The Hong Kong-based company's stock surged around 30 per cent to HK$14.60 in early trade after it snapped up the trademark rights and a 37 per cent stake in Esprit International from US-based apparel producer Esprit de Corp, for a total of US$150 million.

The deal will give the company, which now holds 63 per cent of Esprit International, full ownership of the Esprit brand worldwide.

On Friday, Esprit posted a better than expected net profit of HK$385.2m (US$49.4m) for the six months ended December 31, 2001, thanks to strong European sales and a corporate tax cut in Germany.