Sunday, August 18, 2019
 
Columnist
Martin Hennecke

Lifestyle battles trade war, yuan and unrest
 
13/08/2019
 
<p>Lifestyle International (1212) chairman Thomas Lau Luen-hung yesterday said the current crisis in Hong Kong is even more scary than the SARS epidemic of 2003, adding the group was battling the combined threats of the Sino-US trade war, a weaker yuan and social unrest.</p><p>He said the unrest had hit traffic footfall at its malls as 95 percent of the protesters would pass through the doors of its malls, but added the impact had not been significant.</p><p>While agreeing that citizens had a right to lawful demonstrations, he said Lifestyle would not hesitate to close its malls to ensure the safety of its customers and staff, if necessary.</p><p>The Sogo department store operator saw its net profit for the first half rise 44.8 percent year-on-year to HK$1.29 billion, primarily a result of a positive investment income of HK$427 million versus an investment loss of HK$56.2 million for the same period last year.</p><p>It declared an declared interim dividend of 30 HK cents, up 1.7 percent from a year ago.</p><p>Net profit from core operations fell 2.7 percent from a year ago to HK$981.3 million for the six months ended June 30, as a result of a slight drop in sales revenue amid a weaker retailing environment.</p><p>Sogo Causeway Bay recorded a 4.8 percent decline in sales revenues. Overall traffic footfall decreased 3.7 percent with the stay-and-buy ratio falling by 0.4 percentage points year-on-year to 34.3 percent. The decline was due to a decrease in spending among mainland and local shoppers.</p><p>Business in June was hurt by the protests and worsened in July, he said, adding that expectations for August were even gloomier.</p><p>The unrest will impact the group&#39;s performance in the second half, he added.</p><p>He said mainland tourists and local residents appeared to be tightening their purse strings.</p><p>Lau said Lifestyle would likely record double-digit year-on-year decreases for July and August and wished that people in the city would go back to their normal lives. However, he said that the overall business environment was still good and there was no need for Lifestyle to cut staff numbers.</p>

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