Surfwear apparel company Hot Tuna International more than halved its first half losses thanks to a switch in strategy to target larger retail outlets.

Sales for the six months to 31 December 2008 were up 39% to GBP619,000 (US$877,000), while the company's operating loss was cut by 59% to GBP679,000.

Hot Tuna said it was reaping the benefits of its earlier restructuring, plus a strategic shift to target major international retailers around the world, rather than smaller, independent outlets.

The company had also reduced its cost base and lowered marketing costs, and was now making greater use of partnering.

Hot Tuna is anticipating strong sales increases in Australia, with expanded ranges available through Myer and David Jones.

The company said the downturn there had not been as severe as in other parts of the world.

In Europe, the company was benefiting from shorter routes to market and expanded distribution through UK department store Debenhams, as well as increased orders from German online retailer Sportscheck.

The company admitted that the US market "continues to pose challenges", but pointed out that it had gained listings with retailers Delia's and Victoria's Secret.

"We are pleased with these results in what has been a very difficult trading period across the globe," said Niels Juul, Hot Tuna International chief executive.

"We cannot ignore the significant task ahead of us and future potential slowdown in retail sales across all our key markets.

"To support the current order book and growth potential of Hot Tuna, the board is looking at various funding opportunities to provide the necessary working capital."