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Womenswear boosts French Connection

French Connection’s saw UK and Europe like-for-like sales rise 2% for the three months ended May 16, thanks to a strong performance on womenswear.

Total retail sales in the UK and Europe were up 8% over the period. Like-for-like gross margin was at similar levels to last year.

French Connection said that womenswear had continued continued to show growth but that menswear remained difficult.

Wholesale orders in both UK/Europe and North America, which account for 15% and 8% of group turnover respectively, reflected the difficult retail trading environment in both regions, added the business. Autumn 09 orders are running behind last year’s levels.

Retail sales in North America, which accounts for 16% of group sales, remained soft over the period. Volumes fell 6%, but this included the effect of a 3% reduction in trading space. Like-for-like sales fell 2% and margin was also eroded because of Sale activity.

French Connection’s Hong Kong and Japan businesses experienced softening sales reflecting the general deterioration in those markets.

French Connection said in a statement at its annual general meeting: “Looking forward, we are working to capitalise on the strength of our ladies’ wear ranges and to improve the performance of men’s wear in all of our markets.  We continue to work to reduce our cost base and improve efficiencies wherever possible.”

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