Accessories and jewellery retailer Claire's Stores recorded a 26% plunge in third quarter EBITDA as sales fell in domestic and export markets alike.

A decline in same-store sales and the negative effect of foreign currency translation accounted for a 6.8% sales decrease to US$333m in the three months to 1 November, the company said.

This was partially offset by new store sales. Same-store sales were down 6.3%, with North America dropping 8.7% and Claire's stores faring better than the company's Icing chain.

In Europe, same-store sales were down 1.8%. "In the third quarter, our sales performance was negatively affected by the challenging global retail environment, despite our improvements to the merchandising organisation, ongoing benefits from our Pan-European Transformation project, and improved in-store execution," said Claire's Stores CEO Gene Kahn.

But he added that the company would continue to "aggressively execute" its cost savings initiative, which had secured $6m in savings during the quarter. It was on track to achieve the target of $15m in savings during fiscal 2008 and more than $40m on an annual basis, Kahn said.

"Although we are facing unprecedented economic upheaval, uncertainty and weakness in consumer confidence, as a strong value provider we anticipate maximising the available business opportunity," he added.

For the year to date, the company's net sales were down 4.1% to $1.02bn, with same store sales down 6.8%. Adjusted EBITDA was $137m, compared to $185.5m in the same period last year.