French Connection boss attacks landlords

Stephen Marks, the chairman and founder of French Connection, has attacked the obstinacy of landlords and punitive retail rents after the fashion chain posted a painful annual loss of more than £10m.

French Connection had tried to offload 15 under-performing stores in the UK but has only managed to exit three so far.

Mr Marks, who is also its chief executive, said: "The difficulty is that the one thing we have maintained is the cash and when landlords look at our balance sheet they see a strong company. They say, 'these guys are going to pay their money so why should we help them'?"

Despite its weak performance, French Connection ended last year with a cash pile of £28.5m and no debt.

Asked about how the Chancellor could help retailers in next week's Budget, Mr Marks said: "[He should] have a look at the upward-only rental situation – which is absurd."