Given the number of brands that have been hoovered up by online pure players recently, like our write-up of Boohoo’s brand-grab of Debenhams, it is tempting to suggest that French Connection may go the same way. And by that, I mean a potential buyer will want the brand and the stock, but none of the 78 store commitments, apart from maybe the London Regent Street flagship.
French Connection and its agents however will be looking for a decent price as the announcement caused the shares to rise 67%. Mike Ashley already owns around 25% so a buy out by him is not out of the question. The current interested bidders, Go Global and Spotlight, are no lovers of stores – they both understand how to manage brands across channels and across borders, which arguably is the right focus for any brand going forward.
Neither company has made an offer and, while French Connection is currently said to be worth around £15m market cap, the current investors will be looking at the true value of the brand globally, and seeing what potential there online and via wholesaling. A high street revival is pretty much out of the question. French Connection was founded in 1972 and at its height was worth £500m.