HONG KONG-Jewelry giant Chow Tai Fook saw its first-half net profit and sales fall at a double-digit pace on slumping demand for fine jewelry in its key markets of mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

The company said net profit for the six months ended Sept. 30 slid 21.5  percent to 1.22 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $157.30 million. Sales fell 23.5 percent to 21.53 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $2.78 billion.

Chow Tai Fook, which issued a full-year profit warning earlier this year, said same store sales of jewelry in mainland China fell 20.9 percent while those in Hong Kong and Macau dropped 25.7 percent.

Core operating profit declined 29.5 percent to 1.71 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $220.46 million, but the company noted that its profits benefitted from an “enhanced product mix” and an increase in gross profit margin of gem-set jewelery and gold products.

Company chairman Henry Cheng said he felt the retail market in Hong Kong had troughed.

“If you think about [the 2014 pro-democray] protests or the conflicts over parallel goods, there are a lot of provocations that are not here anymore. It’s still in the valley but unless there are exceptional circumstances I think it’s nearly over.”

He declined to speak on the current political situation in the city which has seen anti-Beijing protests bubble up this past month– but said the company should see a deceleration in the sales decline in the next half.

The jewelry giant has seen its full-year net profit and sales fall for three straight years.

Citing macroeoncomic volatility in Greater China, Chow Tai Fook said it worked on optimizing its retail network to enhance store productivity and efficiency during the six month period. The company closed 94 jewelery stores in Mainland China over the first half and added 107 to end the period with a total of 2,070. It also cut back on staff downsizing its workforce by 11 percent to 25,740 employees.

In an effort to chase Mainland Chinese tourists as they traveled abroad, the company opened its first points of sale in South Korea, Malaysia and at Macy’s in New York.

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