UPDATE 1-French Connection comparable sales rise 11 pct, shares jump

Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:11am EDT

(Adds analyst comment, details, updates share movement)

By Aastha Agnihotri

April 14 (Reuters) - British fashion retailer French Connection Group Plc reported an 11 percent rise in like-for-like retail sales as its new product range was well received in the UK and Europe, sending its shares to their highest since August 2011.

The London-based company, best known for its FCUK brand of clothes and accessories, has been trying to turn around its business after years of sluggish sales by apparel retailers in Britain.

"This is the best like-for-like sales we have seen by any stall-based retailer in recent months," Numis Securities analyst Andrew Wade told Reuters.

French Connection said on Monday that comparable sales in the 11 weeks to April 12 continued the positive trend from the second half of last year.

The company, whose competitors include SuperGroup and Ted Baker, had reported a 1.4 percent jump in like-for-like sales in UK and Europe for the second half of fiscal year ended Jan. 31, recovering from a 4.5 percent drop in the first half.

"We remain confident in the global appeal of the brand and the self-help steps being taken and, despite the strong run in the shares, we retain our positive stance," Wade added.

French Connection announced plans last year to reduce inventory levels, redesign product ranges and increase the flexibility of its buying teams as well as reviewing pricing as part of a plan to restore the fortunes of its retail division.

Along with the French Connection brand - which accounts for almost 90 percent of its revenue - the company operates wholesale-only ladies-wear range Great Plains, e-commerce fashion and homewares brand Toast and men's and women's wear brand YMC.

Shares in the company were up 11.57 percent at 74.38 pence at 1109 GMT on the London Stock Exchange. They touched a high of 77 pence in early trading in a weak broader market. (Reporting by Aastha Agnihotri in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)