Li & Fung said Thursday that its first-half net profit grew 33.4 percent to $149 million, thanks in part to losses in the year-earlier period that generated a low comparative base.
Turnover for the six months ended June 30 slid 1 percent to $8.63 billion. Operating profit rose 19.7 percent to $182 million.
“Current macroeconomic conditions remain tough globally for our customers and our business. While we expected lower oil prices to bolster household income, increase consumer spending and offset general economic softness, these effects have been muted so far as consumer spending continues to be impaired. Retail sales remain lackluster and have been largely boosted by promotions,” the company said.
Chief executive officer Spencer Fung, who took over the firm a year ago, said their China business continued to be impacted by the slowdown. “Our organic business in China has been under a little bit of pressure but our total business has been growing,” he said, thanks to new accounts.
The company gave examples of landing of large clients such as Gymboree and Ann Taylor owner, Ann Inc. While Europe was challenged by a weakened euro and political turmoil in Russia and Ukraine, growth markets for many retailers, Fung said that European brands expansion to North America provided growth opportunity.
“[That market] is sort of gone for now but we’re still optimistic and that we’ll continue to pick up market share in Europe,” Fung said. “Primark is going to the U.S. A lot of our European customers are expanding globally. We hope that on the back of their expansion, we can also continue to still expand.”
The company also addressed reports that it was at risk of losing the business of one of its major clients, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. In May, the retailer verticalized part of its business. “As a whole, we’re actually growing with them,” Fung said. “Retail is so fragmented around the world. There is no one trend of people going one way or another.”
“It’s just a normal movement,” chairman William Fung added. “Everyone is trying different things. The big thing is as Spencer talked about is that people are not working with exclusively with us or exclusively with their buying office. It’s multichannel.”