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French Connection up for sale in bid to secure brand’s future

Fashion retailer French Connection has gone up for sale after it reported a half-year loss of £15.1m. Picture: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

Fashion retailer French Connection has gone up for sale after it reported a half-year loss of £15.1m. Picture: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

Archant

Retailer French Connection has confirmed it is for sale, sending shares rocketing.

Over the weekend the company said that it is reviewing “all strategic options in order to deliver maximum value for its shareholders”, including a potential sale.

Shares were up more than 30% at the market open on Monday at 56p.

Like others on the high street French Connection has struggled in recent months, recently posting a yawning half-year loss after taking an £800,000 hit from House of Fraser’s collapse.

The group reported pre-tax losses of £15.1m for the six months to July 31 against losses of £5.9m a year earlier, following writedowns including the House of Fraser impact and store leases.

Any sale would see French Connection founder and chief executive Stephen Marks offload his 42% stake in the chain.

But complicating matters is the spectre of Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley, who holds a 27% stake in the firm.

Mr Marks founded French Connection in 1972 and it later gained notoriety for its “Fcuk” branding.

At its half-year results last month, the group outlined proposals for a further retrenchment from a difficult high street, with plans to close eight retail stores over the full financial year, having already shut two in the first half.

It said at the time that the “continued deterioration of trading conditions on the UK high street” meant it was reviewing leases on a number of other loss-making stores.

French Connection now has around 100 own-managed stores and some 200 operated under franchise or licence.

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