Iconix Brand Group Inc today (1 May) posted a 43% hike in first quarter profit and said it is taking its brands to China through a joint venture with Hong Kong based Novel Fashion Holdings Limited.

The new company, Iconix China, will own the rights to most of Iconix's brands - which include Joe Boxer, Candies and Mossimo - in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao.

It will be set up a brand management company, providing the brands, marketing and brand management support to local Chinese firms in exchange for equity stakes in their companies.

Novel, which is owned and run by Silas Chou and family, is putting $20m into the venture, and Iconix will contribute $5m.

The new company also plans to acquire interests in other Chinese or Asian brands.

Iconix China will also receive royalties from the existing Iconix license agreements in the territory including OP, which is licensed to Wal-Mart, London Fog, which is licensed to New Foundations and Cannon and Royal Velvet, which are licensed to Li & Fung.

Neil Cole, chairman and CEO of Iconix, said: "Our goal in developing Iconix China will be to become a powerful platform, not just for the brands we own today, but hopefully many new brands in the future.

"We believe Iconix China has the potential to deliver compelling returns to our shareholders and one day could become larger than our US business."

Separately, New York based Iconix posted a first quarter profit of $18.2m or $0.30 per share, up from $12.7m or $0.21 per share the year before.

In the three months to 31 March, sales rose 81% to $55.7m from $30.8m.

Cole said the results proved the company's "unique" business model "where contractually guaranteed revenue, no inventory risk and a diverse portfolio provide us with a much greater degree of resilience."

The company maintained its guidance of full-year earnings per share of between $1.35 and $1.40, and revenues in a range of $250m to $260m.