By  on December 1, 2008

LONDON — British retailer French Connection saw an uptick in its U.K. and European retail sales, but the company is taking a cautious view of the coming months.

In the 16 weeks ending Nov. 25, retail sales in the U.K. and Europe increased 3.7 percent compared with the same period last year. The company said Wednesday it was helped by “strong growth” in its French Connection women’s wear and in the Toast mail order brand. On a same-store sales basis, retail sales in the region grew 1 percent.

But sales in the U.K. and Europe have “become weaker and considerably more volatile” in recent weeks, the company stated, and it expects its overall group sales, including North America, for the three months to Oct. 30 to be “slightly below the level achieved last year.”

French Connection’s retail sales in North America fell 12 percent in dollar terms, and 10 percent on a same-store basis, during the 16-week period. The label’s wholesale sales for the U.K. and Europe were also down during the period, which the company said reflected the transfer of some its business, such as department store concessions, from wholesale to retail.

The company said it expects its wholesale sales in North America for the second half of the year to be “slightly below” the same period last year, as its customers delay the delivery of new-season products in the anticipation of extended sales periods after Christmas.

“As with many retailers, the Christmas trading period is key to our results for the year and the significant downward trend in recent weeks indicates that we should be cautious in our expectations,” the company said.

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