French Connection reported sales rose 0.5% to £154m in the year to January 31, while pre-tax losses narrowed to £2.3m from £5.3m the previous year. The retailer declared an underlying operating loss of £0.6m, compared to £3.1m on 2017. It has less cash this year and reported a closing position of £9.5m, down by £4m. Overall retail revenue fell by 5.5% to £83.1m on an average space reduction of 10% as an uptick in like-for-like sales of 0.8% was offset by the closure of a eleven non-contributing locations during the year. Wholesale revenue rose 8.6% to £70.9m as growth across UK, Europe and North America during the year, was offset by a decline in the Rest of World segment. French Connection also said it rejected an unwanted takeover approach last year. Stephen Marks, Chairman and Chief Executive said: 'We have made considerable progress across the Group over the last year and I enter the new financial year with renewed confidence off the back of that success. 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.' 'While it is clear that the retail market in which we are operating in the UK is unlikely to improve in the near future, we have clear visibility on the benefits we will obtain from the ongoing portfolio rationalisation. In addition the reaction to our collections and strength of our wholesale orders both for the spring and winter seasons further underpins the performance going forward. Although we are only early into the year, I believe we are in a very strong position to make significant progress again.'
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