Full-year profits at fashion retailer Etam plummeted by 73.5%, but first quarter like-for-like sales remained stable, edging up 0.1%, the company said.

Etam, which recently announced plans to pull out of the ready-to-wear sector in Belgium and Italy, as well as discontinuing its joint venture in India, posted sales of EUR969.2m (US$1.278bn) in 2008, down 0.7%.

At constant exchange rates, sales were down 5.1%.

EBITDA dropped 19.7% to EUR92.8m, while operating profit was down 40% to EUR40.7m. Net profit slumped 73.5% to EUR7.2m.

Sales in the first quarter of 2009 were stable, edging up 0.1% on a like-for-like basis, and up 8.9% overall to EUR274.7m.

Etam was helped by a 54.9% revenue boost from its stores in China, where sales were EUR78.9m.

However, Etam Europe revenues fell 2.7% to EUR148.6m, and sales of the company's 123 brand were down 3.1% to EUR47.2m.

The company said it had been impacted by the "difficult economic environment" in the women's clothing sector outside China.

"The group has hoisted its sails to cross the current economic crisis," said Etam.

"It has put two priorities in place: improve the attractiveness of its brands and simplify its organisation, in order to realise savings in operating costs."

The company said no dividend would be paid to shareholders.