Fashion retailer J Crew Group Inc on Thursday posted a wider first quarter loss as it was hurt by hefty markdowns and a sharp slide in same-store sales.

The New York-based operator of 154 retail stores and 42 factory outlets, reported a net loss of $19.6 million for the quarter ended May 3, versus a net loss of $12.1m last year as sales fell three per cent to $161.5m from $167.1m.

It added same-store sales plunged 11 per cent with margins hurt as it slashed prices to clear out excess winter and spring merchandise.

"Management expects that this current trend in merchandise margins will continue through the second quarter," it said in a statement.