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French Connection appoints financial adviser

Lauretta Roberts
21 April 2020

French Connection has announced the appointment of WH Ireland Limited as sole broker and financial adviser to the Company, with immediate effect.

The appointment comes after French Connection revealed in January that it had failed to find a buyer after a lengthy process and reported an underlying loss of £2.9 million for the year to 31 January 2020, compared to a profit of £800,000 in 2019.

Sales were down 11.4% to £119.9 million and the company said it would be focusing on its turnaround plan, having closed 11 stores and three outlets and four concessions during the year to January. It also closed its China and Hong Kong joint venture leading to a further hit of £500,000.

Shares in the company – which before its brief move into profitability in the year to January 2019, had been loss-making for many years – dropped 6.52% to 4.3p in early trading on the back of the announcement. 

Its founder, chairman and CEO Stephen Marks owns around 42% of its shares and had come under pressure from previous shareholders to split his chairman and CEO role in accordance with corporate governance guidelines, but he resisted the change.

In January Marks said that the UK trading conditions had been "difficult" prior to the COVID-19 outbreak but cited wholesale as a strong point for the business. Since then, along with all other fashion retailers, it has been obliged to close its stores for the foreseeable future. It continues to trade online with discounts site-wide.

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