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French Connection says a quarter of its turnover now from ecommerce

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More than a quarter of French Connection sales were made online in the first half of its financial year – with half of ecommerce sales coming via mobile devices.

The fashion retailer said today that 26.5% of group retail revenue was generated online in the six months to July 31. That’s up from 22.3% at the same time last year, and comes following a steady growth in the proportion of sales taking place on the internet in recent years. At the same time, mobile and tablet sales accounted for 50% of ecommerce revenues – up from 47% last time. This, said French Connection, came as the retailer focused on customer relationship management (CRM) and targeted social media advertising.

Overall, group revenue came in at £69.2m, down from £75.8m at the same time last year, and after a period in which five stores closed. Pre-tax losses came in at £7.9m, flat on last year. Like-for-like retail sales rose by 6.5% in the first half, on the back of “the strong performance of the Spring 16 collection throughout the season” and came against the backdrop of a “difficult period for the high street generally but against a weak comparative”. Overall, profit margins were flat, at 56.3%, compared to the previous year, but improved over the spring season as in-season discounting reduced and the sale started three days later. The company said that winter 2016 sales were encouraging so far.

Chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: “Although the overall performance for the first half has been disappointing, the retail result has been particularly pleasing when compared to last year in what has been a difficult retail environment. Performance in wholesale and licensing has been more challenging but we have started to see an improvement recently and expect to see a recovery in the second half.

“There is still much work to do in the rest of the year to move the business forward significantly but we believe the team we have in place and momentum we are seeing will help us to achieve this. As ever, the overall result will be dependent on the Christmas trading period but the second half of the year has started well.”

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