FCUK bucks trend with profits surge

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The Independent Online

French Connection, the fashion retailer behind the FCUK advertising slogan, has bucked the weak high street trend with a sharp jump in sales and profits and a commitment to double its store numbers in the United States.

French Connection, the fashion retailer behind the FCUK advertising slogan, has bucked the weak high street trend with a sharp jump in sales and profits and a commitment to double its store numbers in the United States.

The shares jumped 60p to 960p after the company said like-for-like sales in the five weeks to 7 March were up 14 per cent on last year. This compares with underlying growth of just 1.3 per cent in February reported by the British Retail Consortium earlier this week. Full-year profits were up 30 per cent on the previous year at £29.5m. "If we're producing good products we'll do well," said Roy Naismith, finance director. "We're not seeing any softness [in sales]."

The group has reaffirmed bullish plans for the US, where it currently has 36 branches. It wants to double the size of its US portfolio in three to five years after the 11 September attacks initially derailed its plans. The US retail business lost £2.2m last year but is forecast to break even in the current year. The US wholesale operation also suffered as key department stores cut orders.

The company, which also owns the Nicole Farhi stores, said its FCUK advertising slogan was still going strong. It is currently being featured on French Connection's Urban Surfing spring range. "The important thing is that we keep it interesting and innovative, not just put FCUK on anything."

Like-for-like sales in the year were up 11 per cent on the previous year in the UK. They were up 4.4 per cent in the US, with a particularly strong second half.

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