French Connection’s group revenue fell by 12.2% year on year to £51m in the first half of 2019, down from £58.1m last year.
For the six months to 31 July, its underlying operating loss before tax was £5.3m, a 3.6% smaller loss than the £5.5m for the same period in 2018.
Chairman and CEO Stephen Marks said the results were “in line with [the group’s] expectations” and that “progress has not been helped by trading conditions” in the UK.
Retail revenue also fell by 12.8% to £23.8m in the first half. The group said this was a result of the “planned reduction” of its store portfolio – French Connection shut seven stores, including its Oxford Street flagship, and two outlets during the period. It also opened a new concept store on London’s Duke Street. Like-for-like retail sales rose by 1.4% year on year in the UK and Europe, however.
Group wholesale revenue dropped 11.7% to £27.2m. French Connection blamed “a decline in UK/Europe of 23.4%, due to the reduction in clearance sales and timing over the half year of winter despatches”.
French Connection said “we have built on the good progress we achieved last year, where we returned the Group to underlying profitability,” and Marks added: “Although our retail performance has been resilient, overall the wholesale business is strong and we continue to see good stability in the licence income … But it appears that retail conditions will continue to be challenging. Underpinned by these results, we remain fully on track to achieve our expectations for the financial year.”