Market Report: French Connection gets a warm glow from winter sales

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With its winter clobber flying off the shelves, French Connection found itself back in fashion.

The clothing company, 3.08p snugger at 33.46p, revealed like-for-like sales in the 16 weeks ended November 21 were up a modest 0.2%, compared with a 6.1% decline last year, while gross margins rose by 1.5% as shoppers were prepared to pay full price for its gear.

The group, whose shares have slumped 44% this year in the midst of its slow turnaround, is leaving its loss-making Regent Street store at the end of March and will receive £2.4 million in compensation from the building’s redevelopment. 

Closing seven loss-making stores and the extension of its furniture licensing deal with DFS also buoyed the stock.

Broker Numis lent its weight to French Connection’s rally by raising its recommendation from hold to add, encouraged by the “ongoing evidence that French Connection can profitably leverage its strong, global brand”.


Sales growth at French Connection

Stocks began a busy week for economic data in a stupor as the FTSE 100 fell 25.19 points to 6349.96.

Connor Campbell at Spreadex said: “It might arguably be the most-important week for data in 2015 (or, at least, since September’s non-farm jobs report) but Monday is getting things off to a rather slow start.”

On Thursday, ECB President Mario Draghi will reveal whether the central bank will extend its quantitative-easing programme, the day before the last jobs figures from the US before the hotly-anticipated decision on whether to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006.


Announcement: ECB President Mario Draghi (Picture: AP)

There were no prizes for guessing that the mining sector was behind the Footsie’s decline.

The heaviest faller was BHP Billiton, which has almost halved since May, with a 46.2p slump to 761.4p, while Anglo American, down 68% this year, retreated 13.1p to 387.05p, gaining ground on Glencore, 70% worse off this year, which slipped 0.74p today to 91.14p, as the race for the 2015 wooden spoon heats up.

Sage edged up 5.5p to 580p as Canaccord Genuity upgraded the business-software firm to buy. 

TalkTalk dropped 6.31p to 237.79p as Berenberg downgraded the phone and broadband firm to sell, concerned that its plan to improve margins will be made even more difficult by the recent hack.

Investors dumped Iraq-focused oil firms as Turkish air strikes ramped up in Kurdistan and the oil price fell further. Gulf Keystone slid 1.75p to 20p, while Genel fell 11.5p to 242.25p.

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November 30, 2015 |
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