Fashion chain French Connection on Tuesday announced a 20 per cent climb in first half pre-tax profits to £10.3 million from £8.6m in the year-ago period as it benefited from strong UK sales. The company said sales rose two per cent to £108.9m from £106.5m, while UK and European same-store sales climbed 5.5 per cent and wholesale turnover to third parties grew 4.4 per cent to £44.3m.