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French Connection sales plunge by 40% after store closures

Henry Saker-Clark
·2-min read

French Connection has revealed that sales plummeted over the past year as it was battered by enforced store closures during the pandemic.

The troubled fashion retailer also revealed widening losses as a result of shrinking sales.

It told investors on Wednesday morning that group revenues plunged by 40.4% to £71.5 million after coronavirus restrictions caused it to shut stores for large parts of the year.

The group added that the Covid-19 crisis had also “reduced demand” from its wholesale customers.

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Retail sales were cut by more than half to £22.5 million and were only partly offset by increased online demand.

As a result of lower sales, the company sank to an underlying loss of £11.7 million for the year to January 31, compared with a £2.9 million loss on the previous year.

French Connection said it has secured savings across all areas of the business, including through renegotiating rent with landlords, business rates relief, and the use of the furlough scheme in order to offset the impact of the pandemic.

Nevertheless, chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said he is optimistic about the company’s recovery.

“Our key focus for the year has been to navigate our way through the difficult challenges we have faced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“With stores having predominantly reopened in the UK, we are seeing a much better sales performance than we experienced at the end of the first national lockdown, although it will take time to see how quickly things develop over the coming months, in our own stores but also for our wholesale customers.

“Overall though, I feel that we are definitely moving in the right direction once again.”

Shares in the company rose 3.5% to 23.3p in early trading on Wednesday.

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