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Sports Direct snaps up stake in French Connection

Sports Direct has bought an 11% stake in high street chain French Connection.

The sportswear retailer has added the struggling fashion chain to its retail and brand portfolio which includes stakes in Debenhams and agency Four Marketing.

The news follows French Connection shareholder Schroders selling its entire 9.27% stake in the retailer.

Founder Stephen Marks is still the largest shareholder with a 42% stake in the business.

In a statement French Connection said: “We note that Sports Direct has taken long-term significant stakes in a number of British retailers in recent years, and see this investment as a vote of confidence in the true potential of our company. We look forward to working with them more in the future”

Last week, French Connection shareholders Gatemore, OTK Holding and Zoar Invest wrote to French Connection chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks to demand that non-executive directors Dean Murray and Claire Kent leave the board after overseeing a “tremendous decline in value of the company”.

It came after Gatemore expressed fears in an open letter to Marks last August, urging the business to accelerate store closures, reduce its product range and ditch its “FCUK” logo.

Marks is thought to have replied to the investors’ more recent letter to indicate that the two directors will soon step down.

In its most recent financial results French Connection’s like-for-like retail sales grew 6.5% in the six months to 31 July, but “tougher trading” in wholesale and licensing led to losses of £7.9m, flat on the same period last year. 


Readers' comments (4)

  • Mr. Marks should now prepare for a decent retreat. F C is struggling for too long.

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  • Eric Musgrave

    Interesting development. The FCUK logo would so suit Sports Direct. While the main FC ranges account for about 86% of the group sales, let's remember that the group also includes Great Plains, Toast and YMC. Great Plains, I understand, still performs well for its indie wholesale stockists. Not sure they would be thrilled to see it in Sports Direct.

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  • French Connection has been in decline for some time as the owners did not move the brand on when many Indies were - and continue - to trade up, so it has got left behind and has suffered the inevitable consequences. Sports Direct's shareholding should raise severe alarm bells as this is the final nail in the coffin for any credible Indie to continue to stock it.

    In short, French Connection is yet another "90's brand" heading towards the knackers yard.

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  • Looking forward to seeing the FCUK 3/4 pants in a Sports direct soon. It's the end of the line-sorry to say it's seen it's day.

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