French Connection shares up as losses narrow and takeover interest revealed

Retailer French Connection has said it is `very close´ to returning to profit but continues to shut stores

Retailer French Connection has said it is `very close´ to returning to profit but continues to shut stores

Shares in French Connection have soared more than 13pc after the struggling fashion chain's losses narrowed past year and it revealed an unsolicited takeover approach. However, the stock had initially risen to a high of 40.00p, just off its 52-week peak of 45.83p.

The company also added it would not pay a dividend for the year.

French Connection said it had received an unsolicited approach about a potential offer for the group from a third party in the US.

Like-for-like growth in the Retail segment was 0.8%, slower than the previous year's 4.4%.

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The clothes seller closed 11 stores in the year to January, dragging down its retail sales 5.5pc to £83m.

The FTSE fledging firm saw its operating loss for the year ended January 31 was £2.3mln, down from a £5.3mln loss a year earlier as its revenue increased by 0.5% to £154.0mln, up from 153.2mln.

Another eight stores are expected to close this year.

Chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: "Our goal has been to return the group to profitability and I believe we are very close to achieving that aim, given the momentum that we are now seeing within the business". Our goal has been to return the group to profitability and I believe we are very close to achieving that aim, given the momentum that we are now seeing within the business.

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He said that although it was clear that the retail market in which French Connection is operating in the United Kingdom is "unlikely to improve in the near future" he expects to see the benefits from "ongoing portfolio rationalisation" going forward.

Gross margins in the division fell to 56.3% from 56.8% due to higher sales in outlet stores as French Connection reduced its full-price-store portfolio.

"Although we are only early into the year, I believe we are in a very strong position to make significant progress again", said Mr Marks.

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