Shares in clothing retailer French Connection dipped by nearly 10% this morning (16 January) after the company revealed disappointing Christmas sales figures.

UK/Europe like-for-like retail sales were down 2.9% in the 24 weeks to 12 January, with the company blaming 1.9% of the decline on its decision to delay its January sale period by a week.

This was done, it said, “to build brand equity”, and French Connection said trading in North America was “broadly in line with expectations” following a similar delay to its sale period there, and in spite of disruption from extreme weather.

The company added that its autumn/winter season in the UK and Europe had started well, but softened in the run-up to Christmas.

French Connection said it expected to report a loss before tax and exceptional items of GBP7.5-8m (US$12-12.8m) in the full year ending 31 January, but added that January was an “important” shipping period for its wholesale business.

The company will report its full-year results on 13 March.