French Connection warns of sales weakness

Fashion chain French Connection remained under pressure today after revealing continued poor performances at its menswear and Toast divisions.

Fashion chain French Connection remained under pressure today after revealing continued poor performances at its menswear and Toast divisions.

The group said strong trading in ladieswear failed to prevent current like-for-like sales from dipping into negative territory in UK and European retail.

The figure was also 1.6% lower in the six months to July 31, although French Connection did report narrower losses of £2.5m (€3.7m) today, compared with £3.6m (€5.3m) a year earlier.

The group said menswear trading had been weaker during the half-year while Toast, a mail order based ladies fashion range, endured a poor season.

Trading for the two divisions has remained soft in the second half of the year, although chairman Stephen Marks said he was hopeful of improvement.

He said: “It is encouraging that French Connection ladieswear has shown good growth. I am expecting that French Connection menswear will also improve following changes we have made in our menswear team.

“Toast remains profitable, even though the summer catalogue and ranges did not generate the enthusiastic responses seen in previous seasons.”

French Connection shares were 2% lower today. Stockbroker Seymour Pierce said it would look to cut its full-year profits forecast to £5m (€7.3m) from £8.5m (€12.5m), with next year’s figure down from £17m (€25m) to £10m (€15m).

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