Taipei, May 29 (CNA) Taiwan’s popular Eslite bookstore chain said Tuesday that its 24-hour Dunnan store in Taipei will likely close when its lease for the space expires in 2020.
An Eslite spokesperson said, however, that no final decision has been made and that there was still a chance that the company could still negotiate an extension of the lease with the landlord to keep the outlet going.
The spokesperson did not specify what the problem was with the lease or why the bookstore feels compelled to close down the location.
Even if the Dunnan outlet is closed for good, Eslite will seek another site to open another 24-hour store as the bookstore chain will not allow its 24-hour services to come to an end, the spokesperson said.
The Dunnan branch in downtown Taipei started to remain open 24 hours a day in 1999, and the termination of the lease in 2020 has triggered fears that it will close.
With three levels below ground and two above in the 12-story Dunnan Financial Building on Dunhua South Road, the store has been a big draw for many foreign visitors to Taiwan.
At the annual general meeting of Eslite Spectrum Corp., which owns the bookstore chain, held on Tuesday, Chairwoman Mercy Wu (吳旻潔) announced the company will open a new store in the Nanjing West Road commercial area by the end of the third quarter of this year.
When asked whether the new store will be a 24-hour store to replace the Dunnan outlet, the spokesperson said the plan is still under evaluation.
Wu said her company is also eyeing moves into Japan and Southeast Asia and is currently studying the feasibility of expanding into those markets. It is also considering teaming up with partners or using licensing agreements to facilitate its expansion plans, she said.
Eslite currently runs three stores in Taikoo, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong, and one store in Suzhou, China. It is scheduled to open another store in Shenzhen by the end of this year, and new stores are also planned in Xian and Wuhan.
Wu said the efforts to add new stores are likely to increase the company’s operating costs and affect its profitability this year, but she believed the efforts will pay off next year by increasing market share and boosting income.
On Tuesday, shareholders approved a proposal for Eslite to issue a cash dividend of NT$3 (US$0.10) per share based on the company’s earnings per share of NT$8.91 in 2017.
Shares of Eslite closed down 0.36 percent at NT$138.50 on Tuesday in line with the broader market, where the weighted index ended down 0.22 percent at 10,964.12.
(By Jiang Ming-yan and Frances Huang)