French Connection underlying like-for-likes rose 5.6% in its first quarter despite scrapping its mid-season Sale as its turnaround progresses.

The fashion retailer’s revival plan focuses on reducing the level of discounting in the business and enhancing its brand equity. It did not go on Sale in April and early May in the UK and Europe, which led to like-for-likes on an underlying basis jumping 9.1%in the 15 weeks to May 10.

However, French Connection warned that like-for-like comparatives get tougher as it moves into its second half.

The retailer closed two loss-making stores during the period and plans to shutter more during the year. It said overheads, which are being tightly controlled, are 2.5% lower than last year.

UK and Europe wholesale revenue was up 8% year on year and the order book for Autumn/Winter 2014 is also ahead of last year, the retailer reported.

French Connection said that “weakness in the apparel market” in North America continues to impact its business and it expects the region to trade below expectations for the remainder of the year.

The retailer said the board believes it is on track to deliver results in line with market expectations and improve financial performance year on year. 

French Connection chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: “I’m pleased to see continued momentum in our performance which demonstrates that we are on the right path. We are also encouraged by the early response to our winter collection.”