Prospec­tive sale of French Con­nec­tion boosts shares

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - BY RAVENDER SEMBHY

SHARES in French Con­nec­tion have rock­eted fol­low­ing con­fir­ma­tion that the re­tailer is up for sale.

The com­pany said over the week­end that it is re­view­ing “all strate­gic op­tions in or­der to de­liver max­i­mum value for its share­hold­ers”, in­clud­ing a po­ten­tial sale.

Any deal would see founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive Stephen Marks off­load his 42% stake in the chain.

Shares were up more than 30% at the mar­ket open­ing at 56p.

Like much of the high street, French Con­nec­tion has had a dif­fi­cult time of late and re­cently posted widen­ing half-year losses fol­low­ing an £800,000 hit from the House of Fraser col­lapse.

It no longer has any stores in North­ern Ire­land.

The group re­ported pre-tax losses of £15.1m for the six months to July 31 against losses of £5.9m a year ear­lier, fol­low­ing write­downs in­clud­ing the House of Fraser im­pact and store leases.

Com­pli­cat­ing any sale is the spec­tre of Sports Di­rect boss Mike Ash­ley, who holds a 27% stake in the firm.

Mr Marks founded French Con­nec­tion in 1972 and it later gained no­to­ri­ety for its ‘Fcuk’ brand­ing.

At its half-year re­sults last month, the group out­lined pro­pos­als for a fur­ther re­trench­ment from a dif­fi­cult high street, with plans to close eight re­tail stores over the full fi­nan­cial year, hav­ing al­ready shut two in the first half.

It said at the time that the “con­tin­ued de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of trad­ing con­di­tions on the UK high street” meant it was re­view­ing leases on a num­ber of other loss-mak­ing stores. It now has 100 own-man­aged stores.

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