Struggling camera chain Jessops sales slumped 24.7 per cent to £134.8 million in the six months to March 30.

Jessops’ like-for-like sales fell 5 per cent for the period, but it reduced its operating loss before tax to£11.2 million, from£24.7 million in 2007.

Like-for-like sales in the eight weeks to May 25 fell 8 per cent and total sales dropped 24.1 per cent.

The camera retailer said the sales slump was the result of the closure of 81 stores during the period and the reduction in the non-core online channels.

Jessops executive chairman David Adams said: “While the economic and retail environment remains very challenging, the business is on a sounder footing. Although like-for-like sales are down, our focus on profitable sales means that this is compensated for by the increase in gross margin rate.

“We have also put in place actions to reduce our cost base, the net effect of these points mean we now expect to make a small loss for the year before non-recurring charges and financing fees.”

Last year, Jessops set out its strategic review in two phases – to put the business on a firmer footing through restructuring, which was completed last year and to reposition Jessops as a customer-led proposition.

To accelerate phase two, Jessops is testing three new store formats: the World Camera Centre, a heartland core store focused on product displays and a Jessops Lite format to focus on digital cameras.