French Connection hopes opening its first company-owned store in Germany for six years will further boost its European wholesale arm, which has been supporting the firm’s turnaround.
Chief executive Stephen Marks told Drapers the 1,200 sq ft store, which will open in the new Mall of Berlin on October 15 and stock womenswear only, will help the brand to be “more out there” and attract new European wholesale customers.
French Connection has a number of concessions and wholesale customers in Germany, although it refused to provide an exact number. Its last company-operated store in Cologne closed six years ago. Marks did not rule out further German store openings in the future.
Marks said he hoped the new store would drive sales to existing wholesale customers and bring new ones to the fold, although he would not be drawn on which stockists would be targeted. French Connection has more than 100 wholesale accounts worldwide.
French Connection Group – which comprises French Connection, Toast, YMC and Great Plains – revealed last week it has reduced its first half pre-tax loss for the third consecutive year. It made a pre-tax loss of £3.9m in the six months to July 31, down from £6.1m in 2013.
Total group revenues fell 6.6% to £84m, while wholesale revenues of £34.1m were in line with the year before after a strong performance in the UK and Europe was offset by increased discounting in North America.
The business attributed its improving performance to a strategy of closing four underperforming stores during the period, growing online sales and installing a new design team last year. It has also cut back on discounting. Marks said the wholesale order book for autumn 14 was up on last year and initial spring 15 orders were strong.