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French Connection slumps to another loss

Published 20/09/2016

The £7.9 million loss came alongside an 8.7% fall in sales
The £7.9 million loss came alongside an 8.7% fall in sales

French Connection has slumped to another loss for the first half of the year, flagging a "difficult retail environment".

The £7.9 million loss, which mirrors last year's figure, came alongside an 8.7% fall in sales to £69.2 million as the firm continued to close under-performing stores.

However, like-for-like sales at its shops rose 6.5% and boss Stephen Marks said: "Although the overall performance for the first half has been disappointing, the retail result has been particularly pleasing when compared to last year, in what has been a difficult retail environment.

"There is still much work to do in the rest of the year to move the business forward significantly but we believe the team we have in place, and momentum we are seeing, will help us to achieve this."

French Connection said that its wholesale operation has been "much more challenging in both UK/Europe and especially in North America".

The group, which has clocked years of losses, has come under recent pressure from an activist investor, the US hedge fund Gatemore Capital Management, urging Mr Marks to give up his double role as chairman and chief executive and shake up the board.

Julie Palmer, retail expert at Begbies Traynor, said: "Despite accelerating its turnaround plans of closing unprofitable stores while moving away from its well-known FCUK label, French Connection is still clearly struggling to stem the flow of losses.

"After one major investor recently called for chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks to surrender his dual role in the struggling fashion chain, it remains to be seen how much longer French Connection's other investors will wait before joining the coup."

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