A large survey of German textile and clothing firms on Thursday painted a gloomy picture for the industry of falling sales and jobs cuts amid a tough retail environment.

The study of 260 companies showed they expect sales to fall up to four per cent, or three billion euros, this year and exactly half have had to make workers redundant in the past 11 months.

The vast majority of firms questioned said they expect the situation to worsen over the next couple of years. Germany's 35,000 textile makers employ around 450,000 people.