French Connection considers sale of 14 stores

Wed, 02 May 2012 | DIVISION SALE

French Connection could sell the lease on 14 of its high-profile stores in the UK after struggling to maintain a healthy level of sales.

The shops are in popular locations, such as Bluewater, Brent Cross and Lakeside shopping centres. Phillips Lahaise has been hired to sell the leases on the stores, in a bid to generate funds for the business.

French Connection boomed during the nineties, with a number of successful marketing campaigns. However, recent years have not been as kind and share prices have fallen from almost 500p in 2004 to just 42.75p today.

Pre-tax profits have suffered similar losses, falling 32 per cent to £5 million in the year to 31 January. Selling off some of its 70 UK stores should help founder, chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks to stabilise the business somewhat.

A spokesman for French Connection noted that the appointment of the retail property specialists does not mean that the stores are definitely going to be closed, but that all of the company's shops are “under review” while the company is “examining all options”.

In addition to its UK stores, the firm owns a further 46 concessions in the UK and Europe, but it is seeing a stronger level of growth in the emerging markets, with plans to open 12 shops in China and 15 in India.

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