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Exclusive: French Connection appoints new womenswear chief

French Connection has appointed former Gap vice president of global design Maria Chen as womenswear director.

Chen held the role at Gap, based in New York, for two years from 2013 to 2015. Her leaving date has not been confirmed.

Her CV includes a year as vice president of global design for Calvin Klein Jeans from 2012 to 2013 and vice president of women’s product for Armani Exchange from 2009 to 2012, both US-based positions.

Before that she was in London, working as European design manager for Gap from 2007 to 2009, head of design for All Saints from 2005 to 2007, designer for Oki-Ni from 2004 to 2005 and designer for Topshop from 2001 to 2004.

From 1998 to 2004 she owned and ran her eponymous women’s and men’s premium lifestyle brand.

Her start date at French Connection is not known.

It follows a number of changes to the retailer’s senior team. In July, design creative director Karen Bonser left French Connection after just over three years, while group finance director Adam Castleton stepped down after two.

In a trading update in September, French Connection blamed the “disappointing” spring 15 range for the widening of its losses to £7.9m for the six months to July 31.

Chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: “We have made operational and personnel changes to drive improvements in performance, notably in both design and merchandising.”

French Connection declined to comment on Chen’s appointment.

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