British soap maker PZ Cussons
, best known for its traditional Imperial Leather brand, has increased its push into the youth beauty market with an acquisition of the Fudge haircare products.

The company is paying 25.5 million pounds to the Australian-based Sabre Group to add Fudge Hair Shaper to its new portfolio, which already includes St Tropez tanning products and the Sanctuary and Charles Worthington body and hair ranges.

Fudge is distributed mainly through salons, and sales in the year to end-June 2011 were 15.7 million pounds, PZ Cussons said on Thursday.

Chief Executive Alex Kanellis said: The geographic and distribution footprint of Fudge is a perfect fit with the current brand portfolio and we see further opportunity to develop the brand's international potential.

The company warned in December that it would miss forecasts for first-half profit, partly on higher raw material costs for its Imperial Leather soaps and Carex anti-bacterial hand washes.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle)