French Connection is restructuring and Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s profile update analyses its progress.

This includes monitoring key benchmarks against the historical background of the legacy of the originally highly successful FCUK advertising of a decade or more ago.

A routine process one might imagine, given French Connection’s quoted status and related disclosure requirements, but one complicated because of the way the company produces vital components differently from the way Retail Week Knowledge Bank presents inter-company comparisons for UK-only operations.

For starters, French Connection quotes combined UK and Europe retail sales totals, which fell 10% in 2010/11 to £117.7m, partly due to the disposal of the Nicole Fahri business, but continuing operations’ sales and like-for-likes also declined. Looking at the UK subsidiary’s figures does not throw the required light on the UK situation alone either, partly because those results have yet to be lodged at Companies House but also due to apparent coverage changes and differences. Additionally, there have been recent store closures, both in the UK and northern Europe. Determining the timing of closures, notably in Europe, proved important for calculating detailed sales and density trends. The latter are significant because one of French Connection’s primary short-term aims is to improve densities.

Suffice it to say that when online sales are excluded - and growing online and wholesale sales are another prime corporate aim alongside consolidating the store network into sustainable profitability - French Connection’s domestic densities fell further in 2010/11, to a distinctly modest £350 per sq ft, well below their mid-2000s peak of over £550 per sq ft.