French Connection issues positive trading update

French Connection remained upbeat about its recovery today after seeing a “significant improvement” in sales since Easter.

French Connection issues positive trading update

French Connection remained upbeat about its recovery today after seeing a “significant improvement” in sales since Easter.

The strong growth over recent weeks helped the British fashion chain offset difficult conditions at the start of the year, although like-for-like sales for its UK and Europe retail arm were still 1.8% lower between February 1 and May 14.

French Connection returned to profit in its most recent financial year and said today that it was on track to meet objectives for this year.

It has revived its fortunes with a restructuring that has seen it sell its loss-making Nicole Farhi brand and close its Japanese business and some stores in North America and Europe.

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

Across the group, revenues in the quarter were 3.6% ahead of the same period last year, driven by strong business with wholesale customers.

It described the UK retail market as volatile and because of this it remained cautious about prospects for the sector over the rest of this year.

French Connection added: “Sales in the early part of the period were weak however there has been a significant improvement since the start of the Easter holidays and particularly in the lead up to the royal wedding.

Andrew Wade, an analyst at Numis Securities, estimated that French Connection finished the trading period with retail like-for-like sales in positive territory.

The broker kept its forecast for profits of £8.8m (€10m) unchanged and said today’s update was broadly in line with expectations.

Mr Wade added: “We continue to recognise the opportunities for French Connection to improve retail and build its wholesale and licensing businesses.”

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