International Housewares profit slumps

Hong Kong listed retailer International Housewares has reported a 52.6 per cent slump in profits in the first half year, despite improved sales in key markets.

The company reported a seven per cent same store sales growth in Hong Kong in the six months to October. Macau revenue rose 16.6 per cent to HK$18.7 million, with same store sales up 2.5 per cent.

But despite a healthy 6.6 per cent increase in total group sales to $960.4 million, the listed retailer reported a 52.9 per cent fall in profit attributable to shareholders, to just $21.1 million (down from $44.8 million during the same period last year) – a decline flagged in a profit warning in early December.

It said the decrease was mainly the result of increasing operating costs across the group, weak consumer sentiment in Singapore and Malaysia and an exchange loss arising from the depreciation of the Renminbi fixed deposit.

International Housewares trades under the retail banners Japan Home Centre (JHC), City Life and Epo Gifts and Stationery. It ended October with 368 stores worldwide, in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Mainland China, Macau, Cambodia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand.

Despite Singapore’s stagnant retail market, International Housewares reported growth there of 9.6 per cent on a local currency basis, compared with a 6.9 per cent fall in the corresponding period last year. Same store sales grew 0.3 per cent compared with a 6.9 per cent decline last year, reflecting “conservative consumer spending patterns”.

In Mainland China, sales decreased 11.6 per cent in local currency terms to HK$2.28 million, but comparable store sales growth was a healthy 40.4 per cent, reflecting the closure of underperforming stores.

And in west Malaysia, revenue was down 46 per cent in local currency; same store sales were down 19.3 per cent.

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