Company Briefs

Esprit Holdings

Esprit Holdings will cut about 40 per cent of its non-store jobs and reduce the number of products its sells in stores as the fashion group restructures in the wake of tough competition from online and fast-fashion retailers.

The company said it plans to reduce the line of products by up to 30 per cent and push for more neutral colours, such as black, white, grey and beige for clothing.

"Esprit has changed maybe too much... And we don't know what we stand for," the Europe-focused retailer said in an investor presentation on Monday. "We've lost touch with our audience."

Esprit, founded in 1968, said the restructuring is expected to cost HK$1.5 billion (S$264 million) to HK$1.7 billion in the 2018-2019 financial year amid a broader move to close stores that are losing money.

The company, whose stock has nearly halved in value so far this year, employed over 6,400 full-time staff as of June 30, but did not specify how many were non-store employees.


Petronas

Malaysian state-owned energy firm Petronas said yesterday it will increase its dividend payout to the government after its third-quarter net profit jumped on higher revenue and oil prices.

The new administration led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is relying more on Petronas - a significant contributor to government revenue and the country's largest employer - to offset a revenue shortfall from the government's plan to scrap a consumption tax.

Higher and more stable oil prices have helped boost profit and dividends from Petronas even as its sales of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been recently hit by a supply disruption.

Profit for July-September rose to RM14.3 billion (S$4.7 billion) from RM10 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue increased 19 per cent to RM63.9 billion.

The company said its board last month approved an additional special RM2 billion dividend to the Malaysian government - its sole shareholder - on top of the RM24 billion it has already committed for the year.

Petronas is the only manager of Malaysia's oil and gas reserves, and is the world's third-biggest LNG exporter after Qatar and Australia. The company said production volume totalled 2.313 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) per day for the first nine months of the year, up from 2.296 mmboe per day in the same period last year. But LNG sales volume dropped by 1.12 million tonnes from a year earlier to 20.79 million tonnes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2018, with the headline 'Company Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe