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UPDATE 2-Italian Tod's positive on 2021 after pandemic-driven loss

(Adds details from conference call)

MILAN, March 10 (Reuters) - Italian fashion group Tod’s said on Wednesday it was positive about this year despite uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic, after posting a smaller than expected net loss in 2020.

Chief Finance Officer Emilio Macellari said the 2021 market consensus, pointing to a 16% rise in revenue after a 30% drop last year, and an operating loss of 35 million euros ($42 million), was “reasonable and doable”.

The company, known for its loafer shoes, reported a full-year net loss of 73.2 million euros, below expectations of a 106 million euro loss, according to an analyst consensus published on the company’s website.

It reported an adjusted loss, before interest and taxes, of 93.7 million euros compared to EBIT of 3.6 million euros in 2019.

The Italian luxury leather goods maker said in January sales fell by almost a third in 2020 due to the hard hit of lockdowns and lack of tourism in key regions affected by the pandemic, marking the fifth year in a row of falling annual sales.

The group launched a new strategy in late 2017 to revamp its brands and lure younger consumers, but the pandemic has hampered its efforts.

Tod’s has increased investments in marketing, mainly in digital, seen as a crucial communication tool to reach the new generations of consumers and a priority to fuel future sales growth, founder and main shareholder Diego Della Valle said on Wednesday.

E-commerce is continuing to grow “at very high rates”, he added, citing positive comments received for the group’s new collections as a sign of confidence for the current year.

The group decided not to pay out any dividend despite its financial strength, Della Valle said. ($1 = 0.8393 euros)

Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi, editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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