French Connection trims losses as founder plans retirement

Last week, Stephen Marks agreed to the sale of the troubled fashion business to MIP Holdings for £29m.

French Connection has narrowed losses and confirmed that chief and founder Stephen Marks is set to retire (Nick Ansell/PA)
French Connection has narrowed losses and confirmed that chief and founder Stephen Marks is set to retire (Nick Ansell/PA)

French Connection revealed narrowing losses as boss Stephen Marks confirmed plans to retire once the takeover of the company is completed.

Last week, Mr Marks agreed to the sale of the troubled fashion business for £29 million to MIP Holdings, which is led by the retailer’s second largest shareholder, Apinder Singh Ghura.

Mr Marks, who is both chairman and chief executive, said he will retire once the acquisition is completed.

“This is an appropriate time for me to step back from the business that I founded in 1972, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our people for their contribution to our achievements over the years,” he said.

“I wish them all every success in the future.”

Early in his career, Mr Marks was dubbed “The Hotpants King” after recognising the growing trend in Paris and successfully bringing it to the UK.

He has also invested in the Hard Rock Cafe and helped to finance Guy Ritchie films including Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels.

French Connection founder Stephen Marks is expected to take home around £12m from the sale of the retailer to MIP Holdings (Andrew Parsons/PA)

The 75-year-old is expected to take home around £12 million from the MIP deal, having sought a sale for a number of years.

He formally put the business on the market in March, after it tumbled to a £12 million loss for the year to January after being battered by the pandemic.

In the latest update, the company posted an underlying loss of £900,000 for the six months to July, compared with a £3.6 million loss for the period in 2019.

It revealed that group revenues dropped by 21.2% to £40.2 million for the period as it was affected by its restructuring efforts and pandemic restrictions.

Mr Marks added: “I am pleased that the improvement in business we saw in the early part of the period has continued throughout the first half of the financial year.

“Wholesale in both the UK and the US has performed well, with a good outcome to the summer season.

“Over the last five years, French Connection has made significant progress in its plans to rationalise the size of its store portfolio and to return the group to profitability.”

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