HAPPY RETURNS: Three Japanese apparel makers generated ample bottom-line increases during the first half of 2003 and even managed small gains in sales.

This story first appeared in the November 18, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Onward Kashiyama Group enjoyed a 38.1 percent rise in net profits for the first half ended Aug. 31 to $30.8 million as operating profits ascended 13.6 percent to $83.2 million. Sales were up 1 percent to $1.15 billion compared with the same period of a year ago.

Dollar figures were converted at the current exchange rate as the group reported net profits of 3.39 billion yen and operating profits of 9.16 billion yen on sales of 126.77 billion yen.

While sales of women’s wear increased 4.3 percent to $621.6 million, or 53.9 percent of revenues, men’s wear sales descended 6.6 percent to $315.6 million, or 27.4 percent of sales. Children’s wear logged an 11.1 percent gain to $36.6 million in the half.

For the full year, the group projects net income of $118.2 million and $2.45 billion in sales.

For the six months ended Sept. 30, The World Group registered a 153.9 percent increase in net income to $19.5 million, or 2.15 billion yen. Sales of the group, composed of 14 subsidiary companies, increased 4.9 percent to $998.3 million, or 109.81 billion yen.

Net income is expected to reach $63.6 million and sales, $2.15 billion, for the full year.

In the half ended June 30, The Sanyo Shokai Group’s net profits rose 7.4 percent to $16.4 million, or 1.81 billion yen, while operating profits rose 2 percent to $31.9 million, or 3.51 billion yen, and sales increased 2 percent to $576.1 million, or 63.38 billion yen, on a consolidated basis. — Koji Hirano

MARCHING IN: The U.K.-based French Connection opened its first store in Hong Kong last week, a 3,000-square-foot shop in Festival Walk, a popular shopping mall in Kowloon Tong. The company plans to open another four stores in Hong Kong over the next two years through a joint venture with local retail outfit IT. The new store is a 50-50 deal between French Connection and IT.

Neil Williams, French Connection’s chief operating officer, said the company is expecting monthly sales of $74.78, or 580 Hong Kong dollars, per square foot. The store should benefit from increased mainland tourism in Hong Kong and also from the city’s resurgent economy. Retail sales here have increased for the last two months in a row.

Williams said the label is looking to open stores in other popular shopping centers here, including the upscale Pacific Place mall in Admiralty and Times Square, a popular mall in Causeway Bay.

French Connection has other joint venture agreements and stores in the region, including locations in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. According to Williams, the rest of China is next. “If Hong Kong works, at some stage, depending on how the progress goes, we will also look to have stores in China,” he said. — Constance Haisma-Kwok

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