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Men's rejig at French Connection

French Connection chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks has pledged to improve the business’s menswear ranges, after the category was left behind by improvements to womenswear.

The young fashion brand and retailer saw its losses widen from £2.5 million to £3.5m, which included an exceptional gain of £1.9m on a property disposal, for the first six months to July 31.

Sales were broadly flat at £112.4m over the period. Retail sales in the UK and Europe rose 4.5% to £55.5m but wholesale sales shrank 11% to £24.1m.

The company said the fall in wholesale sales was partly due to a switch to a concession model within House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols but £600,000 of the drop was attributed to the impact of the economic slowdown on the retailer’s wholesale customers.

French Connection said womenswear sales in the UK and US were up 8% on a like-for-like basis over the period but the company did not disclose a percentage drop for menswear like for likes.

The business has already drafted in a team of new menswear designers to reinvigorate the collection and French Connection said the results of this would likely show through in the second half of the year.

New menswear initiatives including the introduction of dedicated suiting areas and trained tailors in its stores have also been implemented to improve the overall menswear experience.

Marks added that the economic environment was unlikely to improve in the second half of the financial year.

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