Fashion retailer French Connection has insisted it remains on track to return to annual profit despite revealing widening half-year losses and an £800,000 hit from the House of Fraser collapse.
The group reported pre-tax losses of £15.1 million for the six months to July 31 against losses of £5.9 million a year earlier, following writedowns including the House of Fraser impact and store leases.
On an underlying basis, half-year pre-tax losses narrowed to £5.5 million from £5.9 million a year ago.
The group said like-for-like sales tumbled 7% across the UK and Europe for the six months to July 31 in “difficult trading conditions”.
But its half-year performance was boosted by a robust showing from its wholesale arm, which saw revenues rise 6.2%, or 8.9% with currency movements stripped out.
Licensing income remained flat at £2.6 million.
Stephen Marks, chairman and chief executive of French Connection, said the group would still swing out of the red over the full-year in spite of a “challenging” outlook for retail.
He said: “There is no doubt that progress has not been helped by the trading conditions in which we operate in the UK, although we can take great confidence from the performance of the wholesale business and the stability of the licence income.”
“We remain on target to return the business to profitability this year and we will be doing everything we can to ensure that happens,” he added.
The group outlined plans for a further retrenchment from a difficult high street, with plans to close eight retail stores over the full financial year, having already shut two in the first half.
It added that the “continued deterioration of trading conditions on the UK high street” meant it was reviewing leases on a number of other loss-making stores.
French now has 103 own-managed stores and a further 204 operated under franchise or licence.
It sold the Toast brand in April, making £11.7 million in proceeds.
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