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French Connection losses narrow to £4.4m

French Connection’s operating losses have narrowed further than expected, dropping to £4.4m from £7.2m last year.

Underlying operating profits from retail operations narrowed to £11.6m from £15.4m. Although wholesale profits have dropped – from £13.9m to £11.7m, largely as a result of tougher trading in the US – the group as a whole has narrowed losses to £4.4m - less than the £4.7m forecast in February.

In the second half of the year, French Connection made a profit of £1.7m, compared to a £900,000 loss in 2012/13.

Revenues dropped to £189.4m for the year to January 31, down from £197.3m last year, as nine underperforming stores were closed, with a further three-to-five being closed this year. Of the revenues, £117.5m came from retail, down from £123.4m last year, while wholesale accounted for £71.9m of the total, down from £73.9m.

In the UK and Europe, the second half also saw retail like-for-likes grow 1.4%, compared with a loss of 4.5% in the first half.

Chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: “I am pleased that the initiatives we put in place to drive a turnaround in our trading performance have delivered better than anticipated results and that they continue to gain traction.”

He highlighted changes to management, including a new design team, changes to buying and investment in ecommerce, had improved performance and stock control.

“We have accomplished a lot in the past year and will build on that momentum to deliver further improvements.  We have seen a positive reception to our spring 14 range and whilst there is still much to do, I am confident that we are on the right path and have the right strategy to drive further progress.”

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