French Connection share prices soar in first half

Retailer French Connection saw its share price soar around 25 per cent yesterday after it posted a much‑improved trading performance in the 16 weeks to 21 November compared with its first trading half.

Winter sales have been strong at the store group. Picture: Contributed

The group, which has five stores in Scotland, had in September posted a year-on-year drop of 8.9 per cent in group revenues for the first half.

French Connection also said yesterday that it was continuing its store-closure programme, expecting to shut seven “non-contributing” branches in the second half.

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It also said it will vacate its store in London’s Regent Street, as the building is being redeveloped, at the end of March when it will receive £2.4 million in compensation and eliminate the branch’s ongoing trading losses.

Like-for-like sales for UK/Europe grew by 0.2 per cent in the latest period, compared with a fall of 6.1 per cent a year ago and including growth in full-price like-for-like sales level at about 6 per cent.

The firm also said its gross margin jumped by 1.5 per cent year on year “as the full price sales mix has increased”. Additionally, its winter collection for this year has seen strong sales and “all other areas of the business are also trading in line with expectations,” according yesterday’s trading update.

French Connection said group cash amounted to £6.1m compared with £7.6m a year ago, and it had extended its licence with furniture firm DFS for five years.

Chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: “While we still have the all-important Christmas period to come, we expect the results for the full year to be in line with market expectations.”