However, the retailer said the results were in line with market expectations. French Connection chairman Stephen Marks said: 'For the first time in nine years our growth record was interrupted by a disappointing trading performance in the second half of the financial year. We have learnt lessons from this and feel confident that we will use this experience to return to our growth track.'
Marks noted that the retailer had concentrated on previously successful styles to the detriment of more fashion-led products. However, he said the buying team had been strengthened as a result. He added that this year's ranges have been reviewed and some new products introduced to the summer season.
Evolution analyst Nick Bubb said he was surprised to see the retailer's like-for-like sales decline as much as 17 per cent in the past two months' trading. He said: 'Given this and some slightly cautious noises on wholesaling orders, we are cutting our£40 million profit before tax pre-goodwill for 2005/2006 to£35 million.'