LUSH expects business to improve in the run-up Christmas – but warns the UK could face an 18-month recession and could see “jobageddon” if another lockdown was imposed.

The Poole-based cosmetics brand said revenues around the world fell by 55 per cent in the three months to the end of May and were expected to have dropped by nearly a third in June.

All its 928 shops have been forced to close at some point since the end of March, except those in Hong Kong, Sweden and Hungary.

In the company’s annual report and accounts, chief executive Mark Constantine said: “We think that it’s highly likely that trade will be brisk until Christmas. After all, it is unlikely that many consumers will be able to go on a foreign holiday and probably won’t fancy sitting on a plane for a while.

“If you are still worrying about the virus or, like many of us, habituated to being safe indoors you stay home, read a book, eat chocolate and take a bath, washing your hair and using a face mask.”

He added: “Most of our products are, by nature, reassuring and they are not fattening. So it is more likely that we will have a better year rather than worse depending on the strength of our brand in each market.”

But he said Lush’s bank and auditors had insisted on the company looking at more pessimistic scenarios and “unsurprisingly the figures look a lot worse”.

“In January comes Brexit and then we really do expect a recession in the UK for 18 months and it’s that bit that’s scary,” he said.

“Pre-Christmas there may be a pinch point where we can’t get customers into the shops and have little room for normal staff levels. All retailers can see it coming. But on the other hand, the consequences for society are severe job losses, ‘jobageddon’ it’s been called, a state of affairs so bad that no government will stomach it.”

He said that “we can now see the price of the lockdown for society and it would be a brave government that tried to close the economy again”.

Mr Constantine added: “Just in the same way that many of our customers have a lot more money than they thought as they haven’t been able to spend, so we intend to pull our horns in, build our cash reserves, open very few shops and lose the parts of the business that are not performing.”

Lush expects a gradual recovery, with December sales down 20 per cent on last year. But its more pessimistic scenario models a 75 per cent decline in its main retail markets, with a 50 per cent decline in its key quarter to the end of December.

The report accompanies accounts for the year ending in June 2019. Group turnover for the year was up 3.9 per cent to £545m and there was like-for-like growth of 0.8 per cent, with shop sales down 0.4 per cent but digital up 12.1 per cent.

UK sales were up 0.8 per cent amid “challenging times for UK retailers”.