Shares in French Connection were up on the FTSE Fledgling in morning trading after the fashion retailer reported a return to profit and dividends in the half year ended 31 July.

Group turnover was reported as being up four per cent to £96.2 million, while the group made a pre-tax profit of £0.2 million. In the same period last year French Connection made a loss of £5.4 million.

Like for like sales in Britain and Europe were up three per cent, thanks to growth in menswear and e-commerce, while the group said that its net cash was up from £6.5 million last year to £30.2 million.

French Connection said it expected to generate £1.5 million per year from 2011 thanks to its new US licence.

In addition the group said it would be paying an interim dividend of 0.5 pence per share. Last year no interim dividend was paid.

Stephen Marks, Chairman of French Connection, said, "I am pleased with the substantial improvement in operating results and confident that French Connection is now back on track. The restructuring arising from our strategic review is nearly complete and we are at the beginning of a new period of growth as evidenced by our new licence agreement with Li & Fung in North America.

"The steady improvement in trading in our UK/Europe retail business continued during the six month period with an increase of 3% in like-for-like retail sales. This included good growth in French Connection men's wear with ladies' wear slightly ahead driven by particularly good growth through e-commerce. Similarly, wholesale deliveries in UK/Europe were 9% ahead. The North America businesses have also generated improved results in the period.

"Although our outlook for trading in the second half remains cautious, the improvement we have achieved in the first half of the year along with the reduced cost base following the restructuring allows us to be confident that we will show progress for the year as a whole."

By 10:35 shares in French Connection were up 5.56 per cent to 47.50 pence per share.