LONDON — French Connection’s first-half profits rose 24.5 percent to $9.9 million from $7.9 million.

This story first appeared in the September 18, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The company said in a statement Tuesday that sales rose 2.2 percent to $163.3 million from $159.7 million in the six months ending July 31, while income from licensing rose 80 percent to $1.3 million from $750,000.

All figures are converted from the English pound at current exchange.

North America, which generates about 20 percent of French Connection’s sales, performed poorly. Retail sales increased by 5.3 percent, to $23.5 million from $22.3 million, but comparable-store sales were down 8.9 percent.

French Connection’s wholesale sales in North America slid 45.6 percent to $10.2 million from $18.7 million. Overall, the company said, North America generated an operating loss of $1.8 million in the six-month period.

On a more positive note, the company said the second half of the year is showing improvement.

In the U.K. and Europe, comparable-store sales were up 7 percent in the first six weeks of the second half. In the U.S., comps have increased 11 percent during the first six weeks of the second half. “This gives us confidence that an improvement is under way,” the statement said.