French Connection chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks has not had an easy 2016. Retail sales were up 6.5% during the first six months of the year, but tough trading in the wholesale and licensing side of the business meant losses stayed flat, at £7.9m. Wholesale sales were down 16.9% on 2015, which the business said was the legacy of a poor performance in 2015 and increasingly difficult trading conditions. However, it stressed that a new design-led approach was moving the business in the right direction.
Marks has also faced unrest from US investor Gatemore, which wrote an open letter to French Connection in August, urging the board to drop the once-iconic FCUK branding, accelerate store closures and refocus on customers aged 25 to 35.