Analysts optimistic that the young fashion retailer can get back to growth
French Connection chairman Stephen Marks has asked the City for six months to turn the ailing fashion retailer around. The group reported a dip in annual pre-tax profits of 15 per cent yesterday, causing its share price to fall 3.7 per cent. It has emerged that Icelandic retail group Baugur bought a 1.5 per cent stake in French Connection on Monday, but Marks stressed that he would keep the retailer in the public sector. Marks owns 42 per cent of the retailer, so any bid would have to gain his support.

Analysts agreed that the retailer had the potential to raise its fortunes. Evolution analyst Nick Bubb said: 'The sector background is tough, but French Connection is suprisingly confident that its UK retail performance will improve from now on.'

Seymour Pierce analyst Richard Ratner noted that the retailer should be doing well because it was in the young fashion space, if only it got the fashion right. However, he said: 'In our view, the new ranges are better and an even greater fashion element should come through by the summer. Thus the company should have a much better second half in this financial year.'