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French Connection cuts operating loss by 6.9%

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Fashion brand French Connection posted a like-for-like sales rise of 1.4 per cent in the second half of the year as it bounced back from a weak first half.

The retailer closed nine under-performing stores in 2013 which reduced operating loss by 6.9 per cent to £4.4m.

Revenue fell 4 per cent to £189.4m but Stephen Marks, Chairman and Chief Executive said results were “better than expected.”

“Changes in our retail buying resulted in much better stock control; stores are operating more efficiently and the investment in our ecommerce business delivered good results,” he said. “We have seen a positive reception to our spring range and whilst there is still much to do, I am confident that we are on the right path and have the right strategy to drive further progress.”

The brand - which still goes by the 90’s name of FCUK - grew e-commerce sales by 8 per cent in 2013 while its cash position remained strong at £28.2m

Group wholesale revenues fell 2.7 per cent year-on-year to £71.9m as group finance director Adam Castleton blamed “tough trading conditions” in North America.

In a statement Marks said no dividend would be paid to shareholders for 2013.

Liz Faulkner, retail Consultant at Conlumino commented: “French Connection’s brand will remain weak if its collections are bland. This problem is more marked when we consider French Connection’s core rivals, all of which have unique and compelling personalities that are reflected in their clothes, such as the classic Reiss, quirky Cos or fast-fashion & chic Zara.

“Continued investment into range development and pricing will be key if the retailer is to develop a more compelling consumer proposition to layer upon its newly improved operational efficiency.”

Published on Wednesday 12 March by Editorial Assistant

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