Department store operator JC Penney recorded a larger-than-expected drop in sales for the first quarter.

The retailer, which aims to establish itself as an affordable fashion-orientated business by moving away from promotions and couponing to low prices on most items, also surprised investors by ending its dividend to help fund a multi-year overhaul.

Sales at JC Penney stores open for at least a year fell 18.9% during the quarter. The retailer reported a net loss of $163m (£103.2m) for the quarter ended April 28 compared with a profit of $64m (£40.5m) in the same period a year ago.