Retailer Quiz has reported plummeting sales over the seven-week Christmas period as it struggled to cope with “challenging” high street conditions.
The fashion business said group sales dived 9.3% over the period to January 4, driven by a slide in online sales.
Shares plunged 12% in early trading on Wednesday, down 2.3p at 16.45p.
Bosses said the performance was “disappointing” but profits were in line with expectations and the company added that it has made “good progress” with cost reductions and margin improvements.
Quiz said group online revenues slumped by 14.8% over the period, driven by the retailer’s decision to cut ties with “unprofitable” third-party partnerships.
Weaker sales through some of its remaining partner websites also contributed to “significantly lower” online third-party revenues, it said.
Its own Quiz websites saw revenues increase by 5.9% over the period, driven by a rise in full-price sales as the company reduced its number of promotions against the previous year.
Sales from the group’s high street stores and concessions also slid, falling 7% for the festive period.
Quiz said this was driven by the decline in footfall it has witnessed over the past year.
Nevertheless, the company said it was “pleased” with its sales across the important Black Friday weekend.
Chief executive Tarak Ramzan hailed Quiz’s cash position and said the group is confident it can improve financial performance and grow revenues.
He said: “Whilst the trading backdrop has remained challenging, it is disappointing to report a decline in revenues in the period.
“We were pleased that revenues through our own websites grew in the period with less promotional activity than in the prior year, which underpins our confidence in the health of the Quiz brand.
“We have a clear customer focus and a flexible model that the board continues to believe will enable Quiz to adapt to the changing retail environment and return to profitable growth in the medium term.”
But investors appeared unimpressed with the results, with some questioning the retailer’s future.
Arlene Ewing, investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, said the statement “will likely do little to ease the concerns of those in the City who have fretted about the business for some time”.
She added: “While it is undoubtedly positive that management is taking ‘proactive actions’ to improve margins and boost cost efficiencies, there is a lot that needs to be done to make Quiz capable of managing the challenges and changes faced by modern retail.”