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Published
Feb 26, 2014
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Esprit hires new boss for China after 24.5% drop in sales

Published
Feb 26, 2014

Not so long ago under former CEO Ronald van de Vis, Esprit announced its intention to focus on the Greater China area and the Asian market, the group already being traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. With today’s release of the group’s six-month financial results, it turns out that China is one of the regions most in need of rapid restructuring. During the first half of the current fiscal year beginning July 1, the group’s China sales declined by 24.5% (at constant exchange rates) to 984 million Hong Kong dollars (roughly 94 million euros).

The Beijing store at Solana Lifestyle Shopping Park. (Photo DR)


Retail accounts for 72.4% of the group’s business in China and dropped 13.1% for the reporting period. Wholesale caved in a whole 43.2%. The company attributed the declines in part to a significant reduction in retail space available in multibrand and subsidiary stores. As of December 31, Esprit had 333 retail stores in the country, 38 fewer than a year earlier. “These numbers need to be put into context. In China, Esprit had a highly ambitious plan with aggressive expansion, even opening unprofitable points of sale. But the timing was wrong. We have decided to stop this development and to look at the details. We have also looked at our management, adding people with a retail orientation and extensive experience in local markets,” commented Jose Manuel Martinez.

To steer China – a strategic market – in the right direction, Esprit has tapped Bernard Mah, essentially to replace Holli Ly, who came from Adidas in 2011. Bernard Mah is himself a veteran of the retail sector. From 1996 to 2013 he served as executive director of Giordano, the giant Hong Kong-based fashion distributor, overseeing some 2600 retail outlets in the Asia-Pacific region. To support and enhance his efforts, long-time insider Sophia Hwang has been appointed to manage the operations side. She came to Esprit in 2003 in marketing, advancing to country manager for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. She then took on the same role for Australia, New Zealand, adding Singapore and Malaysia to her domain last year

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