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French Connection slims down

Struggling fashion chain French Connection yesterday unveiled widening annual losses and agreed to sell its Nicole Farhi business to slim down the group.

The designer label — set up by Farhi and French Connection chairman Stephen Marks in 1982 — will be sold to private equity firm OpenGate Capital for up to £5m.

A strategic review will also see loss-making stores in the US shut alongside the closure of its Japanese business and some European retail outlets.

The moves came as the group posted losses of £24.9m for the year to January 31, up from £16.4m the previous year.

Mr Marks said the group had “had to make some tough decisions” during the past year.

“It is sad to see the Nicole Farhi brand leaving the group, but I am delighted that its new owners are totally committed to nurturing the brand and the considerable talents of the team so that its full potential is realised,” he said.

The shake-up leaves French Connection with its UK and European retail and wholesale operations, the Great Plains — a wholesale-only ladieswear range — and Toast, its mail order fashion and homewares brand.