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Mainland China: Jewelry loses sparkle as industry declines

For the first five months this year, China’s jewelry industry has experienced its first distinct decline in a decade, with many leading jewelry retailers suffering falling revenues and profits.

The largest Hong Kong-listed jeweler, Chow Tai Fook Jewelry Group, one of the largest listed jewelry chains by market capitalization worldwide, cut 4,600 staff last year. It had a 46 percent plunge in its annual profit year-on-year, according to its earnings report for the financial year ended March 31. This year, Chow Tai Fook plans to close seven to eight jewelry stores in Hong Kong, but it doesn’t plan large-scale layoffs for the time being.

The retailer saw the jewelry sales in the Chinese mainland, where it runs 2,057 jewelry stores as of March, decline 21.3 percent compared with a year earlier, as a result of weak consumption, changing consumer buying habits, and fierce competition, particularly the strong shift to e-commerce spending.

“The jewelry industry entered a period with skimpy profits due to lack of spending in the retail market, the homogenization of products and price competition,” Chow Tai Fook said in its annual report. For the past two years, its share price also suffered steep decline. Its market cap slumped by $HK90 billion ($11.6 billion), a fall of 70 percent from its 2014 high.

On Wednesday, shares of Chow Tai Fook fell in early trading but rose again to close at its opening price of $HK5.21 per share. The Hang Seng Index rose 0.61 percent on Wednesday.

Shanghai-listed Lao Feng Xiang Co Ltd, one of the mainland’s oldest jewelry brands, saw its first-quarter revenues dip to 11.35 billion yuan ($1.75 billion), falling 5.71 percent from the previous year. Its profit dropped nearly 17 percent.

(Source: China Daily)

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