French Connection full year losses narrow
Fashion retailer French Connection has reported an underlying operating loss of £0.8 million in the year to end January compared to a loss of £4.4 million in the previous year as it benefited from strong performances in its wholesale and licensing operations and the closure of non-contributing stores.
While UK/Europe like-for-like sales dropped by 3%, group revenue fell by 5.8% to £178.5 million on a reduced retail store portfolio, with nine stores closed during the year.
Meanwhile, wholesale revenue grew by 4.6%.
Stephen Marks, French Connection chairman and chief executive, said: "In spite of difficult retail trading conditions in the second half of the year, these results show that we have made another step towards returning French Connection to profitability.
“The performance of our wholesale and licensing operations were both encouraging, supported by the continued strength of the French Connection brand worldwide. We have also maintained a tight control of costs and have continued to close loss-making stores."
Marks said he was disappointed with the second half UK/Europe retail performance after a good first half as the company traded against stronger prior year comparatives and unseasonably warm weather in the third quarter and into November. In the fourth quarter French Connection went into the winter sale period with lower stock levels which impacted like-for-like sales more than expected.
During the second half, French Connection opened a store in Berlin where sales have exceeded expectations. In addition, it took over its Amsterdam franchise store and opened two new El Corte Inglés concessions.
Ecommerce represented 23% of retail revenue in the year with 24% of orders serviced through click and collect. Mobile and tablet sales made up 47% of ecommerce revenue.
Marks added: “Although we are encouraged by forward orders in our wholesale business, as in the second half of the year, trading on the high street remains challenging and we are planning accordingly.
“It's been a tough year but I am pleased to say that we have responded accordingly, and I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the hard work of our talented staff across the group.”
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