French Connection in the black

Fashion group French Connection said it was confident of coping with a tough economic outlook and rising input prices as it beat forecasts with higher full-year profit, and hiked its dividend. The retailer, which has sold off or closed a string of underperforming businesses, made profits from continuing operations of £8.9m in the year to 31 January, compared to a loss of £9m the previous year, despite the difficult conditions on the high street. French Connection, which has been fighting to reposition itself after the popularity of its FCUK brand waned even before the recession started, said it would triple its annual dividend to 1.5p.