Fashion retailer French Connection Group Plc today (19 May) said it is trading ahead of expectations, with better gross margins offsetting a fall in retail revenue.

Operating results in the 14 weeks from 1 February to 15 May were slightly ahead of plan and better than the comparable period last year, the firm said. 

But it warned that although the UK fashion retail market appears to have been resilient in recent months, "there is no certainty this will continue through the rest of the year and we are planning accordingly."

French Connection said like-for-like revenues in it retail stores in the UK and Europe were 1.9% below last year, while the gross margin benefited from less discounting. 

Same-store sales in its North America retail business was down 2.5% but, with less promotional discounting, the gross margin was well ahead of last year. 

The company is buoyed, though, by higher forward orders in both UK/Europe and North America for its autumn/winter ranges.  

It is also "pleased with the early results from our current men's wear ranges in our retail stores and we are aiming to improve on this through the rest of the year while maintaining last year's strength in ladies' wear."

In March the retailer said it was closing most of its loss making operations in the US and selling its Nicole Farhi brand in a bid to return its core business to profit. It has also shuttered its business in Japan.