Retailer French Connection issues warning

Unexpected downturn hits shares
Unexpected downturn hits shares

Fashion chain French Connection is expected to make a big annual loss after its recovery hopes were dashed by a difficult spring trading period.

Shares in the retailer crashed 20 per cent as it told the City that half-year results will be “materially lower” than expected.

Analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald now expect the company to register a loss of £3.5m for the 2015/16 financial year, compared with their previous forecast for a profit of £500,000.

The chain, which has around 120 stores and concession outlets in the UK and Europe, said it now plans to close seven stores this year as the firm’s retail arm continues to find high street conditions tough.

Shares have now fallen by more than half since last May.

Founder Stephen Marks, who is the company’s chairman and chief executive, has closed under-performing stores, grown online business and employed a new design team in a bid to end a long run of losses.

The retailer added that its wholesale performance is in line with expectations, with forward orders up year on year, while its licensing continues to perform strongly.