Fashion group French Connection expects profits for the year just ended to be at least £6.8m, compared with a restated £1m last year.

The retailer attributed the improvement to “continuing strong performance in the wholesale division, growth in licensing income and good control of overheads”.

Retail remains tough, however. French Connection said trading had been “in line” with the most recently disclosed figure - a 6.1% decline reported in November.

House broker Numis, which rates French Connection ‘add’, with a target price of 80p, was confident of further improvement. Numis analyst Andy Wade said: “Despite our expectation that 2011 could be challenging for the sector, we believe the momentum being built up at French Connection, boosted by the £1.5m benefit of the Li & Fung licensing deal, should see the business make good progress.”