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Esprit slows expansion plans as wholesale remains weak

Esprit has pulled back on its expansion plans as slow consumer spend continues to trouble the Hong Kong-based clothing retailer.

Esprit told Reuters that it is now looking to open 50 stores in the current financial year rather than the 60-80 store target it had previously announced.

The young fashion chain added that it had struggled with a weak European wholesale market and a slower than expected growth in retail sales.

Esprit’s chief financial officer Chew Fook Aun said: “I believe 2010 will still be hard but I think by the second half of 2010 we might be back to normal or at least in the direction of normal but consumers are still very conservative.”

He added that Europe and Asia were still the key targets for new stores, with a small number also planned for North America and China.

Esprit also said it was considering buying a 51% stake in its China joint venture from partner China Resources Enterprise, which would allow it to escalate its growth across the Asia region.

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