Despite controversy and much publicity over an advert featuring a lesbian kiss, fashion company French Connection has announced a drop in retail sales.

Chairman and chief executive, Stephen Marks, said at the company’s Annual General Meeting statement: “In line with other fashion retailers we found that trading over the Easter period was difficult and did not meet our expectations.

“In our UK/Europe retail business we have seen a decline in like-for-like sales of 2% since the beginning of the new financial year.

“In our wholesale business in UK/Europe, in-season orders for our Summer 2006 ranges from our wholesale customers have been subdued. Our forward order book for the Winter 2006 ranges is 12% below the level achieved last year.”

“In our North America business, sales in the wholesale channel have continued to grow, however retail sales for the season to date have been disappointing.”

“There is little indication at the moment that the market conditions or our trading performance will change, and while the Board continues to focus on driving improvements in each of our businesses, and we are only a short way into the year, we are materially reducing our expectations for the full year results.”