Lovisa's digital sales soared in the first half, while store sales suffered under COVID-19-mandated closures, the business has revealed in its H1 FY21 report. 

The retailer saw total online sales grow 355% for the first half of FY21, compared to 311% for FY20. 

Meanwhile, comparable store sales were down 4.5% and total sales slipped 9.8% to $146.9 million for the period, heavily impacted by store closures in Q1.

However, CEO Shane Fallscheer said that the business saw some positive momentum in Q2 as stores in Victoria reopened and most markets showed improved performance. 

"We are pleased with the performance of the business for the half year, in particular with the improving sales performance we saw through Q2 despite the continued global challenges we face with the impact of COVID, and the strength of our balance sheet puts us in a great position to take advantage of future opportunities as they arise," he said. 

Throughout the half, the business continued its international expansion strategy, opening four new stores in France, 14 in the US, two in the Middle East, and one each in South Africa and Malaysia, closing out the period with 460 stores total. 

While the Australian and New Zealand markets were the best performing regions for the business in the half, the COVID closure of the Victorian stores in Q1 took its toll, with total sales in the region being down 0.4% on the prior year. 

Trading in the first seven weeks of the second half have been strong in the Southern Hemisphere, while the Northern Hemisphere continues to be challenged by COVID-19. 

Comparable store sales for this period have been up 12% overall. 

Lovisa finished the first half with $42.5 million of cash and no debt. 

"Our balance sheet remains strong with available cash and debt facilities supporting continued investment and growth," the business said in a statement. 

The business reported an 11.7% decline in gross profit to $113.4 million and delivered an EBITDA of $39.6 million, down 15.2%. 

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