Esprit reverses to $60 mn net loss

Esprit Wednesday announced a net loss of HK$465 million ($60 million) for the sixth months ending December as the fashion retailer continues a four-year transformation drive.

The Hong Kong-listed company posted a net profit of HK$555 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue fell to HK$13.6 billion in the six months ending December from HK$16.7 billion the previous year.

"The market environment was difficult, but the group continued to focus on executing its transformation plan in order to improve Esprit's business," the company said in a statement.

Group chief executive officer Jose Manuel Martinez Gutierrez said the fundamentals of the transformation plan were "sound".

"We expect it to take some time to make these improvements visible to our customers and to see the benefits translated into operating results," he added.

Esprit raised $667 million in November by selling 646.1 million shares in an effort to fund its multibillion-dollar transformation plan.

The company, which was founded in San Francisco in 1968 and is headquartered in Hong Kong, announced its exit from Spain, Denmark and Sweden to focus on Asia as part of the transformation after it saw a 98-percent plunge in net profit in 2011.

While about 80 percent of Esprit's revenue is from Europe, the Asia-Pacific region -- and specifically China -- is important to its turnaround plan.

Gutierrez, a former senior executive at Spanish clothing retailer Zara, was appointed chief executive last August after former CEO Ronald Van der Vis resigned.