U.S. Markets open in 8 hrs 9 mins

French Connection narrows first-half loss

LONDON (Reuters) - British fashion retailer French Connection (LSE:FCCN) said on Monday it had narrowed first-half losses and seen an encouraging customer response to recently launched winter collections.

The firm, which is attempting a turnaround after years of underperformance, made a loss before tax of 6.1 million pounds $9.7 million in the six months to July 31, slightly better than the loss of 6.3 million pounds made in the same period last year.

Revenue was 89.9 million pounds, down 6.4 percent, reflecting a softening in French Connection's wholesale business and a reduction in the UK/Europe retail business. Gross margin was slightly down.

"We have recently launched the winter collections and the reaction has been encouraging although it is still early in the season," said founder, chairman and chief executive Stephen Marks.

"With the recent improvement in the wholesale order books, the changes we have made are starting to resonate with our customers," he said.

French Connection also ended the half with an improved cash position of 22.3 million pounds, no debt and reduced stock levels.

Shares in the firm, up 35 percent over the last year, closed Friday at 33 pence, valuing the business at 32 million pounds. ($1 = 0.6303 British pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Paul Sandle)