• Plans to close seven more “non-contributing” stores
  • French Connection will exit Regent Street store as building is being redeveloped
  • Retail like-for-likes improve in 16 weeks to November 21

French Connection plans to close seven more stores and will exit its Regent Street shop, but its overall retail trading performance has improved.

The struggling group said today it expects to shut the “non-contributing” shops by the end of January as it looks to “rationalise” its store portfolio. Three of the shops are in the UK and four are in the US.

It will also exit its loss-making Regent Street store next March as the building is being redeveloped. It will receive £2.4m in compensation.

It came as French Connection reported that like-for-likes in its retail division edged up 0.2% in the 16 weeks to November 21.This was compared with a 6.1% drop the previous year.

Gross margins increased 1.5% in the period as the full-price sales mix rose and input margins improved, the company said.

French Connection has endured a tough time of late and previously reported widening first-half losses after disappointing Spring sales. It also announced it had closed six stores in its first half. 

Today chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: “I am pleased to report that the performance of the group has improved considerably compared with the first half of the year, particularly in the UK/Europe retail stores and while we still have the all-important Christmas period to come, we expect the results for the full year to be in line with market expectations.”

French Connection also said it has extended the licensing agreement it has on furniture with DFS for another five years.