French Connection has parachuted in two new non-execs including Shop Direct alumna Sarah Curran as it shaved down its interim losses.

The embattled fashion retailer was marginally less beleaguered than expected in its half-year results today as it posted narrowing pre-tax losses and shook up its non-executive board.

Longstanding non-executives Claire Kent and Dean Murray were given their marching orders in an out-of-character response to criticism by activist investors who said they had been in their respective roles too long to be truly objective.

Curran and former Moss Bros finance boss Robin Piggot will succeed them both with immediate effect – although it will be no mean feat for the duo to influence the fashion retailer’s notorious founder, majority shareholder, chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks.

French Connection’s retail sales slid 7.5% as the retailer bit the bullet and shuttered seven stores.

The fashion retailer’s online sales edged up during the period – but according to our online secret shopper, this is a channel that the retailer could make major improvements to.

Also today Walgreens Boots Alliance won regulatory clearance to acquire 1,932 stores and three distribution centres from US pharmaceutical rival Rite Aid, and TM Lewin named former Debenhams executive John Scott as its international boss.

Quote of the day

“Andover is a revolutionary new facility and an important source of new capacity to support our continued strong revenue growth.

“As we made clear before, because it’s a new design, our priority has been to make sure its reliability and resilience are as high as possible, and doing so will incur a couple of million pounds in extra costs this year.”

– Ocado’s chief finance officer Duncan Tatton-Brown

Today in numbers

The percentage of shoppers that have not upgraded to the latest model because they are happy with their current phone, according to exclusive data from Retail Week and ICM.

The spike in Lidl’s sales in the three months to September 9, according to Nielsen’s grocery data.

Wednesday’s agenda

Look out for interim updates from House of Fraser and Kingfisher and River Island’s full-year results.

Grace Bowden, reporter