Reliance Retail, the retail unit of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries on Friday, posted a 22.94 per cent decline in its revenue in December quarter as the firm continued to trade in challenging environment caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

The retail unit reported revenue of Rs 36,887 crore in the third quarter, as compared to Rs 45,348 crore in the same period last fiscal.

However, the pre-tax data showed that the company’s pre-tax profit rose by 11.80 per cent to Rs 3,102 crore during t he quarter under review. It had posted a pre-tax profit or EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of Rs 2,736 crore in October-December quarter a year ago.

“The business delivered a healthy performance with record profit delivery in an operating environment that continued to remain challenging with sporadic COVID related restrictions and local issues,” the company said in a statement.

The overall revenue of the retail segment was further affected by transfer out of the fuel retailing business to the RIL-BP JV and decision to convert Reliance Market stores to fulfilment centres to enable city expansion of New Commerce, it added.

COVID-19 related curbs on store operations eased during the quarter, enabling 96 per cent of stores to be opened, although only half of them were fully operational.

According to the company, stores in smaller towns are recovering faster.

“Overall footfalls remained at similar levels to last quarter, but still lower than pre-COVID levels,” it said.

During the quarter, grocery business and electronics stores sustained double-digit growth, while the fashion and lifestyle business delivered a strong rebound, surpassing the pre-COVID levels.

“The business accelerated the pace of new store expansion with 327 stores opened during the quarter, taking the total store count to 12,201 stores spread over 31.2 million sq ft,” the company said.

Moreover, digital commerce momentum continued with “orders up 12X y-o-y alongside growth in portfolio, traffic and customer base across platforms”.

While consumer electronics stores (excluding Jio devices) revenue growth momentum was sustained on the back of a market-beating festive season and particularly strong performance in Tier 2 and 3 cities.

In grocery, while overall revenue was impacted by COVID restrictions, local issues and the decision to transition market stores into fulfilment centres, the continuing business delivered a healthy double-digit growth, the company said.

Reliance Retail has added over 50,000 new jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, it said.