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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Profits slip at French Connection
French Connection store
French Connection says retail conditions have got worse
Profits at fashion retailer French Connection have fallen nearly 70% after disappointing sales of its key summer clothing range.

The firm saw its profits drop to 5.1m ($9.3m) in the six months to 31 July, compared with 16.2m a year ago.

The company said challenging trading conditions had contributed to a 9% fall in like-for-like sales over the period.

However, the firm's shares rose 16% as analysts said there were signs that its sales could improve.

Tough conditions

French Connection said it had "missed opportunities" with its summer range and had also made a "slow start" to winter sales.

The business has faced a challenging six-month period
Stephen Marks, French Connection chairman

French Connection - best known for its FCUK advertising slogan - is the latest in a string of retailers to warn of tough times following a sharp slowdown in consumer spending.

The company's sales fell 8% to 117.9m over the period.

"The business has faced a challenging six-month period during which the retail environment in the UK has continued to worsen," said chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks.

"We remain focused on ensuring that our products meet the expectations of our customers while maintaining our operating standards and controlling costs."

Encouraging signs

Future wholesale orders for its winter collection and next summer's range are currently 15% lower than last year, it said.

However, the retailer said it was encouraged by the positive response to its winter range from buyers.

Its shares closed up 40.25 pence, or 16.43%, at 285.25p in lunchtime trade.

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