French Connection audit being investigated by UK watchdog

Britain's Financial Reporting Council has opened an investigation into the audit of retailer French Connection by accountants Mazars.
Mazars took over auditing for French Connection for the year to January 2020.
//  A UK watchdog has launched an investigation into the audit of retailer French Connection by Mazars
// It comes after French Connection on Monday agreed a £29 million takeover by one of its biggest shareholders

Britain’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has opened an investigation into the audit of retailer French Connection Group by accountants Mazars.

The FRC said it was looking at the fashion retailer’s accounts for the year ending January 31 2020.

It said the decision to investigate the audit was made at a meeting of its conduct committee on July 20, with the case being handled by the FRC’s enforcement division.

It comes after French Connection on Monday agreed a £29 million takeover by one of its biggest shareholders.

The retailer said it had negotiated a deal with Apinder Singh Ghura, who already owns about 25.4 per cent of the business and is its second-largest shareholder.

The sale comes after years of losses at French Connection, with trading woes compounded by the pandemic.

The clothing brand, which was founded by chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks in 1972, saw underlying losses widen to £11.7 million for the year to January 31 2021, compared with a £2.9 million loss the previous year.

Annual group revenues plunged by 40.4 per cent to £71.5 million after coronavirus restrictions caused it to shut stores for large parts of the year.

Mazars took over auditing for French Connection for the year to January 2020, which is the subject of the FRC investigation, after replacing KPMG.

KPMG had handled the firm’s audit since 1994, but the account was put out to tender under European and UK rules for auditor rotation.

Mazars said it was “co-operating fully” with the FRC.

It added: “Respecting client confidentiality and due process, will provide no further comment during the course of the investigation.”

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