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New IT director at French Connection as trading improves

Fashion retailer French Connection has appointed Sid Desai as its new IT director, as the company revealed continued trading improvements in its preliminary results this week.

Desai, a former solution delivery director at Oracle, has taken the role on after two years as a tech contractor at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, according to his LinkedIn profile. Bill Downing had held the role as interim IT director since December.

He joins a company seemingly on the up after financial results for the 12 months to 31 January 2018 showed that group revenues increased by 0.5% to £154 million compared to a decline of 6.7% last year.

The retailer is still making a loss – the sixth year in a row it has missed making a profit during a period of structural change at the organisation and within the wider retail industry – but the operating loss of £0.6 million compares favourably to last year’s £3.1 million.

Over the last year, French Connection continued to reduce its store portfolio with 11 “non-contributing locations” closed during the period, but the company did open a new concept store in Manchester which suggests new ideas in the pipeline for the 12 months ahead.

Commenting on the results, Stephen Marks, chairman and CEO, said: "We have made considerable progress across the group over the last year and I enter the new financial year with renewed confidence off the back of that success. 

“Our goal has been to return the group to profitability and I believe we are very close to achieving that aim, given the momentum that we are currently seeing within the business.”

Marks remarked on the challenging conditions currently facing retail but suggested the store portfolio realignment puts the company in a position of strength as it looks to move out of the red.

He was also buoyed by the performance of French Connection’s wholesale business, which saw revenue increase by 8.6% year on year to reach £70.9 million