Mar 16, 2011
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French Connection hikes profit and dividend

Mar 16, 2011

Mar 16 - British fashion group French Connection said it was confident of coping with a tough economic outlook and rising input prices as it beat forecasts with higher full-year profit, and hiked its dividend.

French Connection
French Connection Spring/Summer 2011 collection

French Connectioin, which has sold off or closed a string of underperforming businesses, said on Wednesday it made a pretax profit of 7.3 million pounds ($11.8 million) in the year to end-January, up from 700,000 in 2009/10.

It said last month profit would be at least 6.8 million pounds, which is where analysts' average foercast had settled, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S Estimates.

Growth in wholesale, licensing and e-commerce businesses helped offset a fall in sales at stores open at least a year, while the gross profit margin climbed 50 basis points.

French Connection, which has been fighting to reposition itself after the popularity of its FCUK brand waned even before the recession started, said it would triple its annual dividend to 1.5 pence.

"I am confident that we have the people, infrastructure, drive and brand strength to build further on the growth we have achieved," chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks said.

(Reporting by Mark Potter; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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