French Connection boosted as profits begin to recover

FASHION group French Connection said it was firmly back on a growth path, highlighting major overseas opportunities as it posted a rise in half-year profit yesterday.

The retailer, which has sold off or closed a string of underperforming businesses, including Nicole Farhi, made a pre-tax profit of £700,000 in the six months to 31 July, up from £200,000 in the same period last year.

“With the business on a stronger footing, we are in a good position to expand operations internationally. We see great opportunities to grow revenues from both franchising and licensing,” chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said.

In its second half the firm will open in 16 locations across China, Hong Kong, India, Russia, Korea, Lebanon and Jordan, taking the total of franchised stores to over 200 in more than 20 countries. Over the next three years the firm plans to open up to 25 more stores in China through its joint venture as well as additional franchise stores in Russia, India and Turkey.

French Connection, which ended the period with net cash of £30.9m and no debt, is paying an interim dividend of 0.6p a share, up 20 per cent.

The firm’s shares dropped 11.4 per cent yesterday, having jumped 23 per cent last week ahead of the results.