A strong wholesale performance by fashion retailer French Connection during the first three months of its financial year helped to compensate for poor retail trading, it was announced today.
According to its interim management statement, group revenues at French Connection grew 3.6 per cent in the period between February 1st and May 14th 2011 despite its UK & Europe retail division seeing like-for-like (LFL) sales decline 1.8 per cent year-on-year.
North American sales performed much better, rising 1.6 per cent LFL, and its global wholesale deliveries and forward orders for the autumn/winter season were well ahead of comparables from last year.
Commenting on UK performance the statement read: “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.
“As expected retail gross margins are below the levels seen last year due to increases in input costs and are in-line with plan.”
French Connection reported better than expected full-year profits of over £7 million in March, following a successful restructuring of the business to focus on its core brands.
As of the end of April 2011 its balance sheet showed £18.5 million in net cash, compared to £24.4 million a year previously, and the continued expansion of its international franchise network has seen stores open recently in Russia, Jordan and Turkey.
The statement concluded: “Despite the strong growth achieved in the last few weeks, we remain cautious about the UK retail market in the remainder of the year.
“Nonetheless, we are pleased with the current trading which, together with the strength of our autumn/winter ranges and the good performance of our wholesale and licensing businesses, gives us confidence that we will achieve our objectives for the year.”