FINANCE

Esprit fiscal-year profit soars, sales fall off

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Hong Kong — Esprit Holdings Ltd. reported Wednesday that net income of the fiscal year ended June 30 surged to $112.6 million, compared with $10.2 million the year before, boosted by one-time writeoffs for store closures.

Sales dropped 11% to $3.89 billion from $4.35 billion.

The fashion retailer embarked on an aggressive turnaround last year after recording a 98% profit decline in the year through June. It exited its North America business, is closing retail operations in three European countries and is investing more than $2.32 billion over the next four years to rebuild its brand. Following the unexpected departures of both its chairman and CEO, Esprit announced that Jose Manuel Martinez – a former executive of chief rival Zara parent Inditex SA – would be the company’s new CEO. Martinez began his tenure on Wednesday.

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OPERATIONS

Blue Nile launches new shopping sites in French and Spanish

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Seattle — Online jewelry retailer Blue Nile said Thursday it has launched two new websites that cater to French- and Spanish-speaking shoppers. The sites also take purchases in the preferred currencies.

“Constantly improving our service and shopping experience for our international customers is one of our primary goals, and I am thrilled with the launch of our French and Spanish language websites,” said Vijay Talwar, Blue Nile president and general manager of International.

The French and Spanish versions join sites in Japanese, English, and Traditional and Simplified Chinese.

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FINANCE

H&M profit misses, but ramps up store openings and will debut new brand

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Stockholm, Sweden — Swedish fast-fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB reported Thursday that net income for the quarter ended Aug. 31 edged up less than 1% to $550 million, missing analysts’ expectations of $618 million in profit. Sales rose 10% in local currency, but gross margins shrank and the retailer said it would delay the start of online operations in the U.S. until next summer to allow it more time to adapt to the market.

However, CEO Karl-Johan Persson said that H&M will ramp up store expansion, opening about 300 new stores this fiscal year compared with its previous estimate of 275. Its growth focus is on the U.S. and Asia.

H&M also said it plans to launch a new retail brand for women, & Other Stories, in spring 2013. The price points are expected to be slightly higher than those at H&M’s namesake stores,

“& Other Stories is about bringing everything she can wear into one place, focusing on the whole look," the company said in a statement. "We believe shoes, bags, jewelry, lingerie and beauty are key for styling and just as important as clothing."

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