Shares at French Connection soar as sales pick up

Kasmira Jefford
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SHARES in French Connection leapt nearly 11 per cent yesterday, reaching their highest level in almost three years after the fashion group posted a strong start to the year.

The brand, which became famous in the 1990s thanks to the success of its FCUK logo, has been trying to turn around its business after years of weak UK sales and a string of profit warnings.

Like-for-like sales across its UK and European retail business jumped 11 per cent in the 11 weeks to 12 April, thanks to demand for its new product ranges, which French Connection said “had continued to gain traction”.

The uptick in sales was better than the City had forecast. However, it compared with a weak performance last year, when like-for-like sales fell by 4.5 per cent in the first half of the year.

The brand’s founder and chief executive Stephen Marks said last month that the group had reached a “tipping point” at which it could become a successful business again.

Marks hired a new design team last year to overhaul French Connection’s clothing ranges.

The group has also made efforts to restore its fortunes by reducing the amount of stock it sells on promotion, closing loss-making stores and readjusting its pricing after being seen by customers as too pricey.

Annual losses fell from £7.2m to £4.4m for the year to 31 January and analysts are forecasting the retailer to break-even on pre-tax profits this financial year.

Shares in the company have more than doubled in the year to date and closed up 7.25p last night at 74.25p.

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