Apparel retailer J Crew Group has expressed disappointment after revealing a fourth quarter loss of US$13.5m, compared to a profit of $25m for the same period last year.

Revenues for the three months to 31 January were down 3% to $388m, with store sales falling 3% to $252m and comparable store sales down 13%.

Gross margin was 27.6% of revenues, steeply down on last year's figure of 41.3%, primarily because of increased markdowns and promotions.

J Crew recorded an operating loss of $20.4m, compared with operating profit of $43.4m last year.

Company chairman and CEO Millard Drexler said the company was "disappointed" with the figures.

"Our mission, day after day, is to adjust to this new, not fun, retail reality, while not compromising our long-term strategy and integrity," he added.

"We believe the actions we are taking, our focus on quality products and customer service, along with our strong balance sheet, will position us well for when the environment eventually improves."

For the full year, revenues were up 7% to $1.428bn, with store sales increasing 7% to $974.3m and comparable store sales declining 4%.

Operating income fell 44% to $96.7m, and net income was almost halved to $54.1m from $97.1m last year.

J Crew suspended providing annual earnings guidance, citing the uncertainty surrounding the economy. The company expects first quarter earnings per share in the range of $0.07-0.12.