A big rise in online sales has helped Cornish fashion brand Seasalt offset the decline in its stores during the pandemic.

For the five-week period ended January 2, overall sales increased by 17% compared with the same period last year, with a 44% fall in store sales more than compensated for by a 95% rise in online trade. International sales increased by 20% in the same period.

The Covid-19 crisis has caused severe disruption to trading in Seasalt’s store estate and will continue to do so for at least the early part of 2021.

Following the various lockdowns, store sales for the year ended January 30, 2021 are expected to be approximately 57% lower than those of the year ended February 1, 2020.

However, Seasalt says online sales have grown well above expectations. Current expectations for the year ended January 30 are for online sales to have increased by 72% year on year. Overall, across all sales channels, sales are expected to be only 9% down year on year.

For the year ended February 1, 2020, Seasalt reported a 15% rise in sales to £75.4 million. Operating profit stood at £1 million and profit before tax of £0.7 million.

CEO, Paul Hayes, said: “Staying close to our customers, being able to understand their needs and never forgetting our Cornish roots has helped us deliver this strong performance and allowed us to adapt at pace during the pandemic.

“We had started our digital transformation well before the first lockdown, but the events of the past year have accelerated all our plans. We now make approximately two-thirds of our sales online and while our stores remain a vital and constantly-evolving part of the business, we expect a much higher percentage of sales to be digital from now on.

“As we begin our 40th anniversary year, we have taken the steps necessary to prepare Seasalt for the challenges ahead and we are well positioned for continued success as the economy recovers.”