September 19, 2017 / 6:52 AM / 10 months ago

French Connection's profit falls on reduced selling space

Sept 19 (Reuters) - British fashion retailer French Connection Group Plc reported a drop in profit for the half-year due to the closure of some of its stores.

The owner of the Toast, French Connection and Great Plains brands has been struggling to fend off competition from fast-fashion rivals such as ASOS, Forever 21 and Inditex’s Zara. It has closed stores and hired new management and design teams as it tries to return to a profit.

Activist investor Gatemore Capital has urged the loss-making company to split itself or spin off its Toast brand, among other options.

French Connection said gross profit for the six months to July 31 fell to 31.1 million pounds ($42 million) from 38.1 million pounds year ago.

Revenue came in at 68.1 million pounds ($92.20 million), down from 69.2 million pounds year ago.

French Connection, which has more than 409 outlets, said it closed seven stores over the last 12 months, reducing its trading space by 10.2 percent.

Sales at stores open for more than a year in the UK and Europe were “broadly flat”, it said on Tuesday. ($1 = 0.7389 pounds) (Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru, editing by Louise Heavens)

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