French Connection moved back into the black last year and talks are ongoing about a possible sale.

The fashion retailer and wholesaler recorded an underlying operating profit of £0.1m in the year to January 31, when group revenue edged up 0.2% to £135.3m.

The earnings figure excludes profit or loss on store disposals and closures, provisions for bad debts, onerous leases and other professional fees.

French Connection’s wholesale business led growth. Sales advanced 10.3% to £76.9m. Retail sales slid 10.6% to £58.4m and like-for-likes fell 6.8%.

The retailer shut 10 “non-contributing locations” over the year, when it opened one new branch and one concession.

French Connection chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: “I am pleased that we have achieved our target of returning the group to underlying profitability this financial year. 

“This is only part of our overall journey; however, it represents a significant achievement given the results over recent years. 

“This has been achieved despite the ongoing difficult retail trading environment in the UK and is the result of the changes we have made in all areas of the business to adapt to the ever-evolving markets in which we operate. 

“While we still have a way to go to return the business to an appropriate level of profitability, I believe that we have made and continue to make significant progress.”

Last October, French Connection revealed it was conducting strategic options, including a sale. Marks said: “The discussions are ongoing with a number of parties. We continue to expect this strategic review, including the formal sale process, to conclude during the first half of 2019 and will make further announcements when appropriate.”