Esprit to close down Asian stores outside China by June 30

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TAIPEI (CNA) — Esprit Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong-listed fashion retailer, is set to close all its stores in Asia outside China, including 26 in Taiwan, by the end of June as it grapples with slumping sales in the region and the new coronavirus epidemic.

Esprit’s Taiwan branch announced Tuesday that the apparel group has decided to close all 56 retail stores in Asia aside from China, including those in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, by the end of June.

As of Tuesday, Esprit had 26 outlets in Taiwan, mainly in department stores and shopping centers.

The Mitsukoshi and Sogo department store chains said they have received Esprit’s notification while others said they had not but had previously been notified of changes to their locations, with some to shut down by late April or late May.

Esprit said the decision was made as part of its effort to cope with the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is the right step for Esprit as the coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic impact on our business,” said Anders Kristiansen, Esprit Group CEO in a statement dated April 27 on its website.

“Under these proceedings, we are able to preserve liquidity and focus on the restructuring. We want to secure the future of this tremendous brand, and be ready for the opportunities that arise when this is all over,” Kristiansen said.

The company’s sales had already been slumping in the region. Esprit’s retail sales in Asia fell 44.2 percent in Asia in the nine months to March 31, and more than 90 percent of its revenue during that period was generated in Europe, according to reports.

The 56 stores being shut down generated revenue of HK$267 million (US$34.45 million) during the nine months, less than 4 percent of total group turnover. It currently has 82 stores in China.