Friday, July 10, 2020
Martin Hennecke

Troubled Esprit plans to battle on
Esprit (0330), a fashion retailer suffering operating losses for four consecutive years, emphasized it will not sell the company and has not received any takeover offers at its shareholders meeting yesterday.

Executive chairman Raymond Or Ching-fai said the company would not start a turnaround plan if it intended to sell the business.

Or said that after the restructuring, Esprit would adjust product portfolio to meet customer requirements and consumer needs, including improving product quality and localization of products in different regions.

Esprit attaches great importance to the Asian market, Or said, 30 percent of products sold in Asia will be designed in China in the future. A designer resident in Shanghai has also been hired.

He also said new chief product and brand officer Mia Ouakim is suited to the firm, as the company wants to improve its product line and Ouakim is joining from Tommy Hilfiger, which is "more upscale than Esprit."

However, some shareholders who attended the meeting were not optimistic about the turnaround plan. About 50 investors questioned the management team after the voting session, local media reported.

Esprit announced last month it will cut about 40 percent of its non-store jobs and reduce the number of products it sells in stores as the fashion group restructures in the wake of tough competition from online and fast-fashion retailers.

Esprit said the restructuring is expected to cost HK$1.5 billion to HK$1.7 billion in the 2018-2019 financial year amid a broader move to close stores that are losing money.

The company said it plans to reduce the line of products by up to 30 percent and push for more neutral colors, such as black, white, grey and beige for clothing.

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