French Connection is confident it will hit its targets for the year following a good reaction to its autumn 11 ranges and in spite of a small fall in UK and European retail sales in its first quarter.

Group revenue at the fashion business rose 3.6% year-on-year for the period from February 1 to May 14.

Revenue in the UK and Europe retail division dropped by 1.8% on a like-for-like basis, with weak sales in the early part of the period in line with lacklustre trading from most of the high street.

However, the company said there had been “significant improvement” since the start of the Easter holidays and the lead up to the royal wedding.

French Connection said that retail gross margins were below the levels seen last year due to increases in input costs but also stressed that this was in line with what the retailer had expected. It also added that its contemporary womenswear retailer Toast continued to perform well. In North America like-for-like retail revenues increased by 1.6%.

In a statement French Connection said: “Despite the strong growth achieved in the last few weeks, we remain cautious about the UK retail market in the remainder of the year.

“Nonetheless, we are pleased with the current trading which, together with the strength of our autumn/winter ranges and the good performance of our wholesale and licensing businesses, gives us confidence that we will achieve our objectives for the year.”