French Connection reports first half group revenue of £69.2m (2015: £75.8m) on a reduced retail store portfolio, with five non-contributing stores closed during the period. Loss before taxation was £7.9m, flat on last year with an improved retail performance offset by tougher trading in wholesale and licensing. The group reports retail improvement driven by strong LFL performance with UK/Europe stores up 6.5%. Overall revenue down 2.3% on a square footage reduction of 15.8%. Other highlights: - Composite gross margin of 46% (2015: 45.5%) reflecting the higher proportion of retail sales within Group revenue. - Closing net cash of £7.7m (2015: £15m) and no debt - Continued strong performance in the first six weeks of the second half Chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said: "Although the overall performance for the first half has been disappointing, the retail result has been particularly pleasing when compared to last year in what has been a difficult retail environment. "Performance in wholesale and licensing has been more challenging but we have started to see an improvement recently and expect to see a recovery in the second half. "There is still much work to do in the rest of the year to move the business forward significantly but we believe the team we have in place and momentum we are seeing will help us to achieve this. "As ever, the overall result will be dependent on the Christmas trading period but the second half of the year has started well."
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