Sales weakened by Toast
French Connection claimed its recovery remains on course, as sales rose 5 per cent at its Uk and European divisions in the first quarter and like-for-likes climbed 3 per cent. However, performance was poor at its Toast mail order business.

The French Connection ranges continued to perform well, delivering sales slightly above company expectations. However, the retailer said: 'The much smaller Toast business has been very disappointing, with a consequent impact on reported sales growth.'

In its UK and European wholesale business, the company said orders for its spring/summer ranges had improved, but this had not made up for a shortfall in forward orders. Orders for autumn/winter were down 2 per cent on last year.

However, US retail sales increased 6 per cent, with like-for-likes up 7 per cent, helped by sales discounting. In its wholesale business, the group said orders for autumn/winter are well ahead of last year, but spring/summer orders are just below this time last year.

The retailer said: 'We are pleased with the performance of the French Connection ranges in our retail business and we believe that, in an extremely competitive market, it is the strength of the design of our ranges that is driving the improvement in our business.'

Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner said: 'We remain positive on shares, but the Toast news may bring the price back. We remain positive but would use any weakness to pick up stock.'