UK/Europe like-for-like sales fell 5.7% in the 17 weeks to 22 November

UK/Europe like-for-like sales fell 5.7% in the 17 weeks to 22 November

French Connection has delivered a "mixed" trading update, with its share price rising despite posting a decline in like-for-like sales in the UK and Europe for the 17 weeks to 22 November.

The UK fashion retailer saw UK/Europe like-for-like sales fall 5.7%, weighed down by the unseasonally warm weather and strong prior year comparatives. But thanks to a continued focus on full price sales, UK/Europe gross margin increased 240 basis points.

Group wholesale revenue grew by 9% year-on-year, with the order book for spring 2015 "strong", it added. 

During the three months to 31 October, the retailer said it delivered an "improved performance", with a further strong reduction in pre-tax losses particularly through an improvement in the wholesale division and global licence income.

"As widely reported trading in UK retail has been tough and while we still have the all-important Christmas period to come, I am pleased to report that the overall performance of the group continued to be positive, particularly in UK wholesale and global licensing with continued tight cost control and we expect the results for the full year to be in line with market expectations," said chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Freddie George described the trading update as "mixed," but broadly in-line with expectations, adding that he believes the company's strategy "now has traction" particularly in the UK and Europe.

"There is more clarity on pricing architecture between the ‘good, better and best' ranges' particularly in women's wear," he said. "The accessories assortment has been strengthened, as there is a better focus on the 'best sellers' and there has rightly been a significant reduction in markdown activity."

French Connection's share price was up 8.6% to GBP55.37 at 10:53am GMT today (26 November).