French Connection suffered a “tough trading period” for the first six months of the year. Group revenue fell 9.8% in the first half of 2015 and like-for-like sales in the UK and Europe 10.7%. Margins also fell, as stores began discounting stock in response to poor sales figures during the six months.
These results are the newest confirmation of the fashion retailer’s poor performance. French Connection CEO and Chairman Stephen Marks said: “As anticipated in our April trading update it has been a tough trading period for us and we have responded accordingly to ensure we deliver improvements going forward.
We have already closed six stores during the period, with more targeted in the second half. We have also made operational and personnel changes to drive improvements in performance, notably in both design and merchandising.”
French Connection blamed the performance of its Spring collection, which failed to sell. Marks attributed this to "a difficult period for the High Street generally."
Licensing sales were more optimistic. New licensees in shoes and furniture performed relatively strongly. French Connection, like other major retailers, also saw the share of sales made via mobile devices increase, rising from 41% last year to 47%.
Marks continued by saying he was “pleased” with the company’s more recent sales performance, “particularly given soft trading on the high street in August.” Like-for-like sales in the UK/Europe remained flat in first six weeks of the second half.
However, he admitted that trading is “unpredictable” and that French Connection remains “ever dependent on the Christmas selling period.”