Troubled fashion retail group Les Boutiques San Francisco Inc on Friday posted a fourth quarter net loss of C$35.1 million (US$24m) versus a year-ago profit of C$800,000 as it was hit by restructuring costs of C$29.5m.

The Montreal-based operator of more than 140 stores under banners such as San Francisco Maillots and Bikini Village said net sales for the 13 weeks to February 1 rose 20 per cent to $88.3m from $73.6m.

Last August, the firm opened a new flagship store, Les Ailes de la Mode, in downtown Montreal but poor sales forced it to cut jobs and revamp its retail clothing banners.

It also put its West Coast banner under bankruptcy protection, sold the assets of its L'Officiel chain and revealed it would close its Ailes de la Mode store in Ottawa next July.

Chairman and CEO, Paul Delage-Roberge, commented: "We believe the worst is now behind us. Our new business plan is solid and our current business units are sound, which means the company will now be able to get back on the profitability track.

"Other positive elements include the company's inventory levels, which are 17 per cent, or C$7.3 m, below those of the previous year. Administrative and operating costs were not offset by the gross margins at the new Les Ailes de la Mode stores in downtown Montreal and Ottawa."