French Connection works on turnaround after slipping into red

 

French Connection's chief executive has admitted its products have "not been up to scratch" in the past year after the fashion retailer crashed to a half-year loss and its shares tumbled.

Following a review of its retail business, Stephen Marks said the chain had started to ring in the changes after a "very difficult" six months.

It has hired a new head of womenswear design and a new retail managing director, sharpened up its buying practices and is trying to exit under-performing stores.

Mr Marks said: "The public vote with their feet and were not rushing in to buy the product."

While the loss had been expected after it was flagged up in a trading update last month, the City appeared to be spooked by Mr Marks' comments and French Connection's shares fell by 2p, or 8 per cent, to 23p.

The group, which also has stores in the US, India and China, posted a loss of £6.3m over the six months to 31 July, from a profit of £700,000 in the same period last year. This was caused by a 10 per cent fall to £49m in its retail sales in the UK and Europe, while revenues on a like-for-like basis were down by a similar amount. However, Mr Marks, who is also French Connection's chairman, touted profit growth in North America and "booming" licence sales in India.

French Connection has managed to exit only two of the 15 underperforming UK stores it wants to offload, and Mr Marks had scathing words for some landlords.

"If you are a landlord you see someone with a very strong balance sheet [in French Connection], who is quite able to pay the rent," he said. "Landlords are then not as helpful as they are to someone who is going into a pre-pack administration. They have still got their heads in the sand."

Separately, Inditex, the Spanish group behind the Zara and Massimo Dutti chains, continues to power ahead, with net profits up 32 per cent to €944m (£760m) in its first half, on revenues up 17 per cent to €7.24bn.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
Sport
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
News
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Guru Careers: Communications Exec / PR Exec

£25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral