What retail gloom? French Connection says close to returning to profit

British chain added that the UK market remained ‘challenging’

Shares in British fashion chain, French Connection Group Plc, rose around 18 per cent today after it said it was close to returning to profit and disclosed it had been approached by an unnamed US group about a potential takeover although talks did not lead to an offer.

The group said negotiations about a potential offer for the group had gone on for a number of months last year before they broke off.

Although French Connection reported a 0.8 per cent increase in like-for-like sales at its stores, the group maintained that the retail market in Britain remained “particularly challenging”.

“Our goal has been to return the group to profitability and I believe we are very close to achieving that aim, given the momentum that we are currently seeing within the business,” Chief Executive Stephen Marks added.

While Marks is the largest shareholder in the company with a stake of around 41 per cent, Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International holds a 27 per cent stake.

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