Revenue at fashion retailer French Connection fell by 53% in the first half of 2020, according to the latest update.
The brand released an interim report which attributed the steep decline to Covid-19 and its widespread effects on the retail market.
The report showed an annual underlying loss of £12.2m compared with the previous year’s loss of £3.6m. Wholesale revenues were also affected by the Covid-19 impact and were down £13.8m 49.3% to £27.2m compared with the same period last year.
The loss reflected the closure of customer stores in all regions although some deliveries continued through online operations.
Stephen Marks, chairman and chief executive of French Connection, said: “Within the retail division though, reflecting the movement in demand online, our ecommerce sites performed well with sales up 8.1% over the six months.”
The permanent closure of nine stores in the first half of 2020 proved damaging, pushing retail revenue down £10.1m in the period, down 57.6% to £23.8m compared with 2019.
The report continued to show gross margins were down 51% compared with the 7.1% decline in 2019. The loss of the full price selling period during the lockdown and new lockdown restrictions overall affected sales.
The firm said it had achieved cost-saving measures through rental reductions and government furlough assistance among other business-wide efficiencies.
Marks added: “This has undoubtedly been the most difficult trading period that the group has ever faced and I would like to thank our staff, both those who have kept the business running and those who have been on furlough, for their ongoing commitment to French Connection.
“Despite the unprecedented difficulties we continue to face alongside the rest of the high street, having been able to secure the necessary financing we feel that we are well positioned to navigate an extended period of uncertain consumer demand but also ready to capitalise on any opportunities.”