French Connection has narrowed its full-year losses and pledged to close more outlets this year.
The fashion retailer and wholesaler posted a pre-tax loss of £2.3m for the year to January 31, down from £5.3m the previous year.
French Connection said it trimmed operating losses to £600,000, a £3.1m improvement on 2017.
Retail like-for-likes in the UK and Europe were up 0.8% year-on-year, a drop on the 4.4% gain recorded last year.
Total retail revenues dropped 5.5% to £83.1m, which French Connection attributed to the closure of 11 “non-performing” locations during the year. It shuttered nine in the previous financial year.
In total, the company’s net retail space decreased by 11.3% this year on top of the 11.7% space reduction in 2017, despite the launch of a new “concept store” in Manchester.
French Connection remains on track to reach its previously stated goal of operating just 30 full-price stores by 2019.
At the year end, the business had 116 fully-owned stores, as well as 212 franchised, licensed or joint venture locations.
Chief executive Stephen Marks, who has faced calls from shareholders to resign as he battles to transform the company’s fortunes, said: “Our goal has been to return the group to profitability and I believe we are very close to achieving that aim, given the momentum that we are currently seeing within the business.”
Group revenues increased 0.5% to £154m, compared to a 6.7% revenue fall in 2017.
Wholesale revenues grew 8.6% to £70.9m, offsetting losses in the high street business.
Online sales climbed 3.1% and now constitute 29.7% of retail revenue.
French Connection said it plans to upgrade its digital infrastructure and marketing spend as it focuses on further growing its ecommerce business.
Marks warned that the UK retail climate was “unlikely to improve in the near future”, but added: “We have clear visibility on the benefits we will obtain from the ongoing portfolio rationalisation. Although we are only early into the year, I believe we are in a very strong position to make significant progress again.”