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Esprit sales flat, as expected

Largely in line with expectations, Esprit sales were flat, the fashion brand says in its interim report for the six months to December 31.

While its overall turnover was down 0.4 per cent overall, retail turnover grew 6 per cent while wholesale turnover fell 11.4 per cent.

The gross profit margin for Esprit Holdings was stable at 50.5 per cent, while the net loss of HK$238 million was in line with expectations. The group had a healthy net cash position of HK$4.2 billion with zero debt.

Unfortunately, positive retail sales growth in Europe was offset by continued weakness in the wholesale channel, and negative development in the Asia Pacific region. Asia Pacific turnover declined 6 per cent year-on-year, mainly dragged down by China with its 11.6 per cent drop. China represents 46 per cent of the region’s turnover.

In its breakdown of turnover in Asia Pacific, China led with HK$655 million, 7 per cent of group turnover. Then came Hong Kong (HK$185 million, 2 per cent, down 0.4 per cent), Australia and New Zealand (HK$162 million, 1.7 per cent, up 0.3 per cent), Singapore (HK$129 million, 1.4 per cent, down 4.7 per cent), Taiwan (HK$98 million, 1.1 per cent, up 6.5 per cent), Malaysia (HK$97 million, 1 per cent, down 2.7 per cent), Macau (HK$56 million, 0.6 per cent, down 12.7 per cent) and others (HK$43 million, 0.5 per cent, up 6.2 per cent).

In the previous financial year, the group moved towards vertical integration which resulted in more cost-efficient product development and supply chain processes, allowing product improvements in terms of design, quality and value-for-money.

To maximise the selling potential of its improved products, this past year the group started pursuing an Omnichannel business model. In its early stages, this has led to improvements in growing its loyal customer base “Esprit Friends” and fully integrating the commercial activities of all sales channels.

In September, the group launched an intensive brand-marketing campaign to strengthen and rejuvenate its image.

Performance during the first six months of this financial year (between July and December) indicated that the vertical and omnichannel model was an effective basis to turn around its business, the company said.

In its report, the company paid tribute to its co-founder, Doug Tompkins, who died in December, describing him as a “conservationist, outdoorsman, philanthropist, agriculturist and businessman”. He and his then wife, Susie Buell, formed the company in 1968. Esprit’s collections are available in 40 countries, in about 870 directly managed retail stores and through more than 7500 wholesale sales points including franchise stores and department-store outlets. The Group markets its products under two brands, Esprit and EDC.

Listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since 1993, Esprit has headquarters in Germany and Hong Kong.

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