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French Connection shareholders approve takeover

By Huw Hughes

2 Nov 2021

Business

Image: French Connection, Facebook

French Connection shareholders have approved its takeover by a consortium of bidders including its second-largest shareholder, Apinder Singh Ghura.

Last month, the British fashion chain announced it had accepted the buyout offer in a deal valuing the company at 29 million pounds.

Chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks revealed at the time plans to retire from the company when the transaction closes.

French Connection was highly popular in the 90s and early 00s but has struggled in recent years to compete with online competitors.

French Connection H1 narrows losses

The retailer revealed last month that in the six months to July 31, it narrowed its underlying loss to 0.9 million pounds, compared to a loss of 3.6 million pounds a year earlier, with the company citing the closure of non-contributing stores, a bounce-back of wholesale volumes and a tight focus on overheads.

But group revenue in the period came in at 40.2 million pounds, a 21.2 percent drop compared to 2019, due to a reduced retail portfolio and temporary Covid-19 store closures, which were partly offset by an increased wholesale and e-commerce contribution.

French Connection’s composite gross margin dropped to 31.6 percent compared to 42.7 percent two years ago, due to the mix shift towards a lower margin wholesale channel and the level of fixed product development and logistic costs on the lower overall volumes.

Outgoing CEO Marks said he was “pleased that the improvement in business we saw in the early part of the period has continued throughout the first half of the financial year”.

“Over the last five years, French Connection has made significant progress in its plans to rationalise the size of its store portfolio and to return the group to profitability,” Marks said.

French Connection