LONDON — Despite erosion in its North American wholesale business, there’s apparently no stopping the momentum at French Connection.
Even with the perilous retail market in the New World taking more than a 40 percent bite out of FC’s wholesale business, the trendy U.K. casualwear company reported Wednesday that profits in the fiscal year ending Jan. 31 rose 37.8 percent to $32.6 million from $23.7 million in 2001. Sales rose 6.8 percent to $385.6 million from $361.1 million. Dollar figures have been converted from the pound at the current exchange rate.
"The rises are directly related to our continuing focus on the product, retail environment, advertising and marketing," said Stephen Marks, chairman and chief executive of French Connection Group PLC.
"Over the next five years, it is up to us to make this an $800 million business," said Marks, whose firm will be venturing into Mexico with a retail license and expanding in Hong Kong with a retail joint venture later this year.
As reported, the company in September will introduce its FCUK fragrance, to be produced under license by Zirh International Corp., the men’s U.S. skin care manufacturer and a division of Shiseido. It will launch in approximately 9,000 department store and perfumery doors — in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Mideast — as well as 100 French Connection stores. There are plans to roll out the scent and related products in about 40 countries within two years.
The bulk of French Connection’s sales — 80 percent — comes from the U.K. and Europe, where the company has 82 directly operated stores and 29 franchises. Sales in the U.K. and Europe increased 21.1 percent to $163.5 million, thanks in part to an increase in retail space.
In North America, where FC has 36 directly operated stores, retail sales increased 6.9 percent to $51.8 million from $48.5 million, but the North American wholesale business was an entirely different story. Sales dropped 43.2 percent to $19.4 million due to "difficult" retail conditions.
"We’re working our way back upwards in terms of wholesale in North America," Marks told WWD during an interview. "We think sales trends are looking very promising in the U.S."He said comparable-store sales in the first five weeks of fiscal 2003 were up 18 percent, versus a 12 percent increase in the U.K. and Europe.
He said the company was on track to open a new store at the Pentagon City Mall in Washington, D.C., and that Marshall Field’s was planning to open a French Connection space at its flagship in the fall. Marks said French Connection was looking to open a total of 25 stores in North America in the medium term.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)