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French Connection sales fall, but a greater proportion now take place online

French Connection sales fall

Almost a quarter of French Connection’s retail sales took place online in the first half of its current financial year. But while the proportion of sales taking place from desktops and mobile devices continued to grow, overall revenue fell, with like-for-like sales down by 10.7% during the period.

The multichannel fashion retailer, a Top100 retailer in Internet Retailing’s IRUK500 research, said that ecommerce sales represented 22.3% of the group’s retail revenue of £42.6m in the six months to July 31. The online figure is up from 22.4% of retail sales at the same time last year but comes as sales decline.

Mobile and tablet sales made up 47% of ecommerce revenue. That’s up from 41% last time.

The figures came against a backdrop of falling sales at the retailer, which said its Spring 2015 collection had put in a “disappointing performance”. Overall, revenue of £75.8m fell by 9.8% from £84.0m last time, while pre-tax losses more than doubled to £7.9m from £3.9m last time. Underlying losses in the retail division widened to £11.1m from £7.5m last time, but the wholesale division returned a profit of £5.5m despite a 2.6% fall in wholesale revenues, to £33.2m.

Stephen Marks, chairman and chief executive, said the first half had been a “tough trading period”, adding: “We have responded accordingly to ensure we deliver improvements going forwards.” Those improvements included closing six stores – three in the UK and Europe and three in North America – in the first half, and introducing staff and operational changes to boost design and merchandising. More stores are to close in the second half.

He said trading had improved for the Winter 15 collection, with full price like-for-like sales growing by 6% in the first six weeks of the second half.

“This performance reflects the changes we have put in place and was against the backdrop of soft August trading across the market,” he said.

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