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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 September, 2004, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Sales hit at French Connection
French Connection store
UK store sales have been poor
Fashion chain French Connection has reported a rise in half-year profits despite disappointing sales at its stores in UK and Europe.

Pre-tax profits for the six months to 31 July were 15.1m ($27m), up from 13.4m at the same point last year.

Turnover rose 5% to 128.2m, but the firm said like-for-like sales in UK and Europe were down by 9.5% after "a challenging six month period".

It added that UK trading conditions in August had been "unusually poor".

Contrary to recent press speculation 'fcuk' continues to be an important part of our branding
Stephen Marks, French Connection chairman

French Connection said that strong sales in recent years meant it was becoming harder to maintain same-store sales growth in UK and Europe.

However, it admitted that its performance during the first half of the year had been "disappointing".

Branding stays

French Connection said that it would be sticking with its controversial "fcuk" logo, despite recent reports that it could be dropped or scaled back.

"Contrary to recent press speculation 'fcuk' continues to be an important part of our branding and we will carry on using it on our products, in our stores and in our advertising," said chairman Stephen Marks.

Despite increasing average retail space by 17% in UK and Europe, overall turnover in the retail business was down to 51.2m from 53.4m in the same period last year.

However, a strong performance from French Connection's wholesale business in Europe helped to offset the weak retail performance, with wholesale turnover up 16% to 51.4m.

Retail sales were stronger in North America, with turnover up by 15% to $28.5m, while the wholesale business there saw turnover rise 9% to $11.7m.

On Tuesday, its shares ended over 11% lower at 329.25 pence.

French Connection suits US tastes
09 Mar 04  |  Business
French Connection profits surge
16 Sep 03  |  Business

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