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French Connection's losses widen after spring 15 disappoints

French Connection’s losses widened to £7.9m in the six months to July 31 due to the “disappointing” performance of its spring 15 collection.

The company made a £3.9m loss in the same period last year.

Group revenue in the first half of 2015 fell 9.8% to £75.8m, as a reduced store portfolio led to lower like-for-likes. It closed six stores during the period.

UK and European like-for-like sales were down 10.7%, compared to a rise of 6% last year. Wholesale revenue fell 2.6%, while licensing sales grew 3.4% on last year. Underlying operating expenses were down 1.4% year on year.

French Connection said retail trading over the first six weeks of the second half “has been stronger”, with UK and European like-for-likes flat.

Chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: “As anticipated in our April trading update it has been a tough trading period for us and we have responded accordingly to ensure we deliver improvements going forwards.

“We have already closed six stores during the period, with more targeted in the second half. We have also made operational and personnel changes to drive improvements in performance, notably in both design and merchandising.

“Improved retail trading especially in recent weeks of our new autumn 15 collection, the continued growth of licensing, solid spring 16 forward orders, and tight control of costs, are positive signs.

“We are pleased with the recent change of trajectory in UK/Europe retail performance, particularly given soft trading on the high street in August. Trading, however is unpredictable, and we are as ever dependent on the Christmas selling period.”

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