Fri, Mar 17, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Eslite Books marks 17th birthday

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Eslite Books, the nation's biggest bookstore chain, celebrated its 17th anniversary yesterday, saying it will devise marketing strategies to stimulate declining sales.

"Since the second half of last month, we have seen revenues declining by less than 10 percent, and the situation is turning more positive this month," said Liao Mei-li (廖美立), executive vice president of Eslite Corp (誠品公司), the owner of the bookstore chain, on the sidelines of a press conference yesterday.

One of the causes of the decline in book sales is the consumer debt problem stemming from the abuse of credit and cash-advance cards, which has blighted most retail sectors recently.

Eslite officially opened its flagship store, the nation's biggest at 3,000 ping (9,900m2), in Taipei's bustling Xinyi district on Jan. 1. The new location helped lift the company's total revenues from 50 bookstores and 7 department stores nationwide for the first two months of the year by 37 percent year-on-year, Liao said.

However, book sales at the Xinyi store for that period averaged between NT$80 million (US$2.5 million) and NT$85 million, falling short of the target of NT$100 million, Liao said.

To boost sales, Liao said that the company would continue to fine-tune its department stores' product mix and introduce marketing activities tailor-made to lure three target customer groups -- young children, teenagers and Internet users.

Eslite chairman Robert Wu (吳清友) said in December that the group hopes to achieve sales of NT$12 billion for this year, up from NT$9.4 billion last year, with net profits forecast to double to NT$3 billion.

The company is also looking at expanding into Chinese markets in Hong Kong, China or Singapore.

Wu said yesterday that Eslite might cooperate with Beijing's Xinhua Bookstore (新華書店) to ease its way into its foreign expansion plans.

Serving as a consultancy to Xinhua Bookstore, Eslite plans to provide professional services in the areas of logistics, software and hardware through its subsidiaries in China, he said.

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