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Zara owner Inditex books £363m loss after stores forced to close

It posted its first quarterly loss in the three months from February to April.

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Zara is among the Inditex brands (PA)

Zara is among the Inditex brands (PA)

Zara is among the Inditex brands (PA)

The owner of fashion chain Zara tumbled to a £363 million loss in the past quarter after shutting almost 90% of its stores in the face of the pandemic.

Inditex, which also owns the Bershka and Pull & Bear chains, said it booked its first quarterly loss in the three months from February to April.

It said net sales fell by 44.3% to 3.3 billion euros (£2.9 billion) for the period, despite reporting a 50% increase in online sales.

The retail group said it has seen improvement in recent months, with 5,743 stores – around 78% of its sites – reopened as of Monday June 8.

I would like to publicly thank all of our people for their tremendous commitment throughout the global health crisisPablo Isla, Inditex

It said sales decline has also slowed down as a result, with sales 34% lower in the week from June 2 to June 8 compared to the same period last year, after posting a 51% decline in May.

In markets where stores are already open, it reported a 16% fall in sales for the past week as social distancing measures weighed on sales.

Inditex executive chairman Pablo Isla said: “Our priority through the crisis has been and continues to be the health and safety of our people and our customers.

“I would like to publicly thank all of our people for their tremendous commitment throughout the global health crisis and during the gradual return to our stores and operating facilities.

“I would like to highlight how they have consistently followed the appropriate protocols, which has delivered a consistent message of responsibility.”

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The combination of ambitious plans and weak sales has taken something of a hammer to profits and the end of lockdowns won’t automatically translate into normal sales volumes.

“That said, Inditex is pivoting in the right direction, and if investors are prepared to take a longer-term view, this Spanish powerhouse is in a better position than most of its peers.”

PA