UK fashion operator French Connection Group has given a cautious outlook for the Christmas period after group turnover in the three months to 30 October was down on last year.

The company said that while it is cautious in its expectations for Christmas "given the significant downward trend in sales in recent weeks," but reported a good start to the period in its UK/Europe retail division.

An interim management statement today (26 November) noted that retail sales in UK/Europe - which accounts for 49% of Group turnover - grew by 3.7% in total and 1.0% on a like-for-like basis in the 16 weeks from 1 August.

French Connection ladies' wear and Toast saw strong growth but men's wear ranges performed less well, the company said.

Wholesale revenue in UK/Europe - which accounts for 21% of Group turnover - was below last year's level on lower order levels.

The company's retail business in North America (14% of Group turnover) has also deteriorated since the start of the second half, with sales in dollar terms down 12% in total and 10% on a like-for-like basis.
For its North America wholesale business, revenue in dollar terms in the second half is now expected to be below last year, the company said.

"It has been widely reported that the retail environments in both the UK and North America have deteriorated markedly since the banking crisis hit the headlines in September.

"We too have seen the impact of this in our sales figures with the strong performance in UK retail sales in the first weeks of the new season replaced by softer results more recently," a company statement said.