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Stephen Marks mulls French Connection sale

Founder of French Connection Stephen Marks is exploring a potential sale of the business.

Advisers at investment bank Numis Securities have been approaching potential buyers for Marks’ 42% share in the company, Sky News first reported.

In a statement French Connection said: “The board confirms it is currently reviewing all strategic options in order to deliver maximum value for its shareholders, which includes the potential sale of the company.

“There can be no certainty that an offer will be made for the company, nor as to the terms on which any offer will be made.”

Private equity firms and other fashion retailers are thought to be interested in the business. Mike Ashley owns around 27% of the business, but it is not known if he intends to bid for Marks’ share.

Group revenue at French Connection fell by 2.4% to £58.1m in the six months to 31 July, which the retailer blamed on a reduced store portfolio and ‘tough retail trading’.

Like-for-like sales across the UK and Europe slipped by 7% but wholesale revenue was up by 6.2%. Underlying operating loss before tax was reduced to £5.5m, compared to £5.9m the previous year.

Marks said the business was on target to return to profit before the end of the year.

Readers' comments (1)

  • French Connection should be an upper middle/lower premium brand as many of the traditional 'middle market' Indies had traded up - But FC lacked a clear strategy and got lost for consumer and retailer alike. For example, you never have £20 logo tees with £350 coats, but the brand was trying to please too many people in different market levels and became confused. It therefore became a difficult forward buy for a retailer because the brand was being dragged down due to its cheap, logo heavy past (at least on the mens side), so selling its more Premium sophisticated products to move the brand in the direction it needed to be as the consumer was not willing to invest it what it saw as a cheap-ish brand.

    Yet another case of where a brand needed a clear and defined strategy of who it was and where it wanted to be, but consistently lacked direction when it needed it most.

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