Zalando posts first decline in sales since founding

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of fashion retailer Zalando is pictured at the new headquarters in Berlin

BERLIN (Reuters) -Zalando posted a decline in sales for the first time since the German online fashion retailer was founded, leading it to dim its outlook for 2022 on Thursday.

First-quarter sales fell by 1.5%, to 2.2 billion euros ($2.33 billion), after posting a 46.8% increase in the same quarter last year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The main issue is that people just aren't into buying fashion," said co-Chief Executive Officer Robert Gentz with a view to high inflation and the war in Ukraine. For the three months from January to March, the company reported an adjusted operating loss of almost 52 million euros, compared with a year-earlier profit of 93 million euros.

Zalando now sees 2022 sales growth coming in at the lower end of the forecast range of 12% to 19%, and adjusted earnings before interest and taxes would at the lower end of the expected range of 430 million to 510 million euros.

"We believe in the strength of our business model and are taking further actions to improve our results," said Gentz, who added that he expects significant acceleration of business in the second half of the year.

Zalando, along with Asos and Boohoo, was one of the winners of the coronavirus crisis as people had to go online to purchase clothes and cosmetics due to shop closures.

As pandemic restrictions have eased, people are returning to in-store shopping, which is why Zalando was only able to increase its number of customers slightly compared to the previous quarter, to 48.8 million.

($1 = 0.9429 euros)

(Reporting by Nadine Schimroszik, Writing by Miranda Murray, editing by Kirsti Knolle and Maria Sheahan)