French Connection is confident it will hit its targets for the year following a good reaction to its autumn 11 ranges, a rise in wholesale volumes and an improvement in trading the lead up to Easter and the royal wedding.
Group revenue at the young fashion chain rose 3.6% year-on-year for the period from February 1 to May 14.
However, revenue in the UK and Europe retail division dropped by 1.8% on a like-for-like basis, with weak sales in the early part of the period in line with lacklustre trading from most of the high street.
However, the company said there had been “significant improvement” in trading since the start of the Easter holidays and the lead up to the royal wedding.
French Connection said that retail gross margins were also below the levels seen last year due to increased input costs but stressed that this had been forecast.
Although no figures for its wholesale division were released, the company said its global wholesale business had “performed strongly” with deliveries “well ahead” of last year.
Forward orders for autumn 11 are also ahead of those seen for autumn 10, partly thanks to the expansion of its international franchise network with recent store openings in Russia, Jordan and Turkey.
In a statement French Connection said: “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.”
Contemporary womenswear retailer Toast, which is part of the French Connection group, also continued to perform well.