fashion retail
French Connection's UK sales fell as the country's retail industry continues to struggle in the slowing economy. (Reuters).

British fashion retailer French Connection has said that the first half of the year was tough for the company's UK and Europe businesses as sales in the region fell by 9.5 percent in the six months ending 31 July.

The company reported losses of £6.3m during the period after posting profits of £700,000 in the previous year.

The total revenue of the fashion retailer fell by 7 percent to £96m.

"The last six months have continued to be very difficult for French Connection's UK/Europe retail business, which has had an impact on the group results for the period," said Stephen Marks, chairman and chief executive.

French Connection said that it is planning to boost its operations in Britain but added that it could take some time to recover from the current situation.

The company has finished a review of its retail operations and is putting in place reforms aimed at improving the products collection and functioning.

It would also continue to close down stores which are making losses, the company said.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Marks said: "The reality is that our products have not been as 'wantable' as we would like them to be."

"We have changed the design team, and are doing a lot of things to put it all right," he added.  

Earlier this year French Connection had hired retail specialists Ashley Phillips Lahaise to examine its UK retail operations.

The company expects that the "initiatives will have a growing positive impact on our trading performance over the next two financial years".

But the firm added that it did not expect any improvement in the UK retail scene in the second half of the year, as the industry continues to struggle with the slow economy hurting consumer demand.

However, Marks said: "We are committed to building on French Connection's core strengths; our highly recognised and well-regarded brand, our long history of producing desirable, fashion forward products, our proven sourcing ability and the commitment and passion of our staff."