French Connection ahead in style

SHARES IN French Connection jumped 105p to 485p as the fashion chain reported a 27 per cent rise in full-year profits and a 30 per cent dividend hike.

Stephen Marks, the chief executive (pictured), said trading was "pretty good" in very difficult market conditions. He said that with worldwide brand recognition for both French Connection and Nicole Farhi rising, the group is planning "further considerable expansion", especially in the US and Australia, but also in Europe.

For the year to 31 January the company reported pre-tax profits of pounds 10.4m against pounds 8.2m a year earlier, leading to a final dividend of 3.25p, giving a total payout of 4.25p against 3.25p.