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French Connection puts stores up for sale

French Connection has put 14 of its 71 stores up for sale including shops in Bluewater, Brent Cross and Lakeside after launching a review of its retail division in March.

The high street chain has hired property agent Ashley Phillips Lahaise to sell the leases of the 14 stores, according to reports. The list of stores up for sale includes shops in Uxbridge, Bromley and Kingston alongside those in the Bluewater, Brent Cross and Lakeside shopping centres.

A French Connection spokesperson told Drapers: “All stores are under review but we don’t have any concrete closure plans at the moment.”

In March the retailer, which has 71 stores in the UK and Ireland, announced that it was reviewing its retail operations after posting a 32% drop in pre-tax profits for last year.

For the year to January 31, profit before tax dropped to £5m from £7.3m the year before. Revenues rose 5% from £205m to £215.4m. However overall the UK/Europe retail business generated a loss of £8.2m compared with a loss of £1.6m in the previous year.

At the time chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: “During the past year our wholesale, international and licensing businesses have performed well, however, in the most difficult winter season I have seen in all the years I have been in business, our UK retail division has been very disappointing and this has had a significant effect on our results for the year.”

He added: “In the light of the performance of the UK retail division we are reviewing our retail operations in order to improve sales and margin in this core business. We are very aware that there will be no quick solutions and that changes we make will take time to have an impact. We are working very hard on improving the performance of the retail stores, although clearly the state of the UK economy is not helping the position.”

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