• Full-year pre-tax losses widen to £3.5m from £1.6m
  • Total sales drop 8%
  • Asos finance boss Lee Williams hired as group finance director

French Connection has reported falling full-year sales and widening losses despite a “significant improvement” in its second half. 

Pre-tax losses hit £3.5m in the year to January 31, from £1.6m the prior year.

In Europe, which accounts for three-quarters of the retailer’s sales, like-for-likes dropped 6.4%.

Globally, total sales dropped 8% to £164.2m. Online sales were flat, at 23% of total sales. 

Its retail business accounted for 56% of its sales while its wholesale arm generated the remainder. Its retail arm also generated 57% of profits.

French Connection made most of its sales in the UK and Europe, with 74% of sales generated there. North America accounted for 21% and the rest of the world 5%.

However, the group said that it had performed more strongly in the first six weeks of its current financial year.

Chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: “Overall the performance for the year has been disappointing due to the very poor first half but the improvement we have seen during the second half and into the new financial year shows that we are definitely moving in the right direction.

“We are early in the year and have a considerable amount of work to do to take the group back to profitability, although I believe that the actions we have taken to date will go a long way to taking us there.”

The group has also appointed Asos finance director Lee Williams as group finance director, a role that was vacant. Williams will join French Connection on April 4. He spent the last 15 months at Asos and was formerly Waterstones chief financial officer.

French Connection shrank its store estate around the world last year, with only its Toast and YMC brands left untouched.

North America suffered the most closures – US stores went from six to four and Canadian stores from seven to two. European French Connection store numbers edged down from 62 to 60.