QUIZ, the Glasgow-based clothing retailer, has shown it is still at the mercy of brutal conditions on the high street as it reported a plunge in store sales in the first half.

The fast fashion specialist conceded yesterday that trading conditions remain “very challenging” as it revealed “weaker than initially anticipated sales” in its UK stores and concessions in the six months to September 30.

It highlighted falling footfall as it reported UK standalone store and concession sales of £31.3 million, down 11% on the first half of last year, though noted the rate of decline had eased in recent weeks.

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After a series of retailers, including Mothercare, New Look, Monsoon and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, owner of Topshop and Topman, have moved in recent months to trim their store estates to ease overheads, Quiz said it is focused on “improving the performance of our physical retail outlets and continue to believe in their importance to our omni-channel model”, adding that, “we are actively managing our stores and concessions to ensure their profitability.”

Quiz said: “The average lease length on our stores remains relatively low at 26 months and we continue to appraise the economics of each store as leases come up for renewal.”

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Quiz has 73 standalone stores and 171 concessions in the UK, with its international interests swelling that presence to more than 300 outlets.

The company was valued at around £200 million when it floated in July 2017. But since then its share price has tumbled as high street trade has come under pressure, sparked in part by the rapid growth of online retailing. Having peaked at 201.6p in July 2018, the share price closed broadly unmoved at 16.75p last night.

Overall group revenue dipped by 5% to £63.3m, but online revenues grew by 7% to £20m in the first half, “once adjusted for unprofitable revenue streams terminated during the year”. Total online sales in the first half of last year were £20m.

Quiz highlighted “solid growth” on its own websites, with sales increasing by 12% year on year. And it said bosses are continuing to implement actions arising from a strategic review, which was launched in March after profits warnings. Improving margins, cutting costs and addressing footfall decline are on the agenda.

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Chief executive Tarak Ramzan said: “Overall, the group’s trading performance in the first half has been broadly in line with the board’s expectations despite the difficult UK trading environment. Sales growth through Quiz’s websites has continued, reflecting the investment in our product range and marketing initiatives.

“Whilst trading conditions are expected to remain challenging in the near term, the board remains confident that... the group can return to sustainable profitable growth in the medium term.”

Arlene Ewing at stockbroker Brewin Dolphin said: “The tough backdrop for retail continues to take its toll on Quiz. Overall sales are on the decline, but the one bright spot is the online offering which has seen decent growth.

“Investors will have a keen eye on the results of the root and branch review announced earlier in the year.”