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French Connection enjoys shares surge

FASHION retailer French Connection Group reported an 11% rise in like-for-like retail sales as its new product range was well received in the UK and Europe.

The update sent its shares soaring as high as 77p but they ended the day 7.25p, or 11%, ahead at 74.25p.

The London-based company, best known for its FCUK brand of clothes and accessories, has been trying to turn around its business after years of sluggish sales by apparel retailers.

Numis Securities analyst Andrew Wade said: "This is the best like-for-like sales we have seen by any stall-based retailer in recent months."

Yesterday the group, which has 131 stores and concession outlets in the UK and Europe, said comparable sales in the 11 weeks to April 12 continued the positive trend from the second half of last year. The company, which competes with the likes of SuperGroup and Ted Baker, had reported a 1.4% jump in like-for-like sales in UK and Europe for the second half of its fiscal year ended January 31, recovering from a 4.5% drop in the first half. Mr Wade added: "We remain confident in the global appeal of the brand and the self-help steps being taken and, despite the strong run in the shares, we retain our positive stance."

French Connection announced plans last year to reduce inventory levels, redesign product ranges and increase the flexibility of its buying teams as well as reviewing pricing as part of a plan to restore the fortunes of its retail division.

Along with the French Connection brand, which accounts for almost 90% of its revenue, the company operates wholesale-only ladies-wear range Great Plains, e-commerce fashion and homewares brand Toast and men's and women's wear brand YMC.

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