Luxury fashion retailer Mulberry saw sales plunge in the year leading up to the coronavirus crisis, it has revealed.
The company said revenue had dropped more than 10% to £149.3 million, while pre-tax loss increased nearly tenfold to £47.9 million in the 12 months to the end of March, most of which preceded Covid-19.
Even before lockdown was brought in, the UK market had been challenging, Mulberry said. Revenue was down by 6% before the pandemic started.
But the company had still been hoping to turn a profit in the year.
Chief executive Thierry Andretta said: “Prior to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic we were performing well and on track to record a pre-tax profit in the second half of the year.”
Since the new financial year started, things have gone better than first expected, in part driven by a 69% increase in digital revenues.
“Trading since the start of the current financial period is ahead of our early expectations,” Mulberry said.
However, the optimistic statements from bosses could not conceal the fact that revenue was down 29% between the end of March and late September.
Shares dropped 3% on Monday morning.
Mr Andretta said: “Post-year end, the group has continued to benefit from its long-term strategic focus, with initial sales ahead of our early expectations.
“However, we cannot escape the reality that British luxury and UK cities face a very uncertain future, hampered by necessary but dramatic social distancing measures and alarmingly low levels of footfall, as well as the pressures of high rents and business rates and the upcoming changes to tax-free shopping.
“We cannot control external events, but we have a clear strategy and remain confident in the strength of the Mulberry brand.
“I would like to take this opportunity to once more thank my colleagues for their hard work, resilience and dedication during these difficult times.”