German fashion house Escada AG has widened its first half loss to EUR91.7m (US$127.7m) on lower sales and EUR55m in write-offs lined to the sale of its Primera unit.

The loss for the first half of the fiscal 2008/09, which runs from November 2008 to April 2009, compares with a loss of EUR8m in the same period last year.

Sales dropped by 23.9% to EUR 151m, down from EUR198.5m the year before. Sales of its core Escada brand fell 18% to EUR146.5m from EUR178.8m.

European sales fell 27.9% to EUR86.5m, with the biggest declines seen in France, Italy, the UK and Russia, the company said.

Declines of 21.9% and 12.9% were seen in North America and Asia respectively.

Moves to stimulate sales by cutting prices meant gross profit margin fell 2.6 percentage points to 64.4%.

The fashion firm has made no secret of the fact that its survival depends on raising cash and reducing debt while it carries out a planned restructuring.

In a statement on Monday (22 June) it said it still believes "the planned financial restructuring can be implemented," - a move that would prevent it from having to file for insolvency.

At the end of April, Escada's net debt widened by EUR10m to EUR187.6m.