Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Sunrise vows to honor store vouchers

LIQUIDITY PROBLEM The retailer said it was looking for a buyer but denied media reports it was planning to shut down its store, saying it still had NT$2 billion in assets

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sunrise Department Store (中興百貨) promised to redeem NT$2.5 million (US$77,400) in vouchers in circulation should the store's concessionaires refuse to honor the vouchers, a company executive said yesterday.

"All vouchers can be cashed [at the counters] on the basement floor," Sunrise president Jeff Tsai (蔡振世) told reporters yesterday, one day after some concessionaires refused to accept Sunrise-issued vouchers and expressed concern over media reports of the retailer bouncing checks.

valid

Tsai assured consumers that all vouchers issued by the retailer remain valid, while rejecting media reports that it plans to shut down its Taipei store after bouncing NT$300 million in checks.

"We are experiencing some management difficulties and are seeking a new buyer," Tsai said. "But closure isn't an option."

Although the retailer owes NT$900 million in combined debts, Tsai said that it was not imperative for the company to shut down as it still had NT$2 billion in total assets.

He admitted that the company was facing a liquidity problem after some suppliers insisted on cashing their checks in advance.

The company is in talks with suppliers to ease the credit crunch and maintain normal operations, Tsai said.

Tsai attributed the department store's financial difficulties to a "sluggish economy," saying revenues during its anniversary sale promo early this month achieved less than 70 percent of its NT$350 million goal.

Formerly known as Sesame Department Store (芝麻百貨), Sunrise was founded in 1985 by Chung Shing Textile Co (中興紡織). It is known for its designer boutiques and innovative decorations and marketing strategies.

Sunrise was one of the first retailers to introduce upscale brands such as Armani in Taiwan, but slow business later forced the company to close two of its branches -- Xinyi in July 2004 and Hsinchu in July 2005 -- leaving a single outlet in Taipei.

competition

Like most other smaller players, Sunrise faces stiff competition from neighboring retailers, such as Breeze Center (微風廣場) shopping mall and Sogo Department Store., along Fuxing North and South Road in Taipei.

Meanwhile, retailer Idee Department Store's (衣蝶百貨) search for a new buyer ran into difficulty again after a shareholders' meeting yesterday was aborted due to low attendance.

Idee, an affiliate of the debt-ridden Rebar Asia Pacific Group (力霸亞太企業集團), held an auction bid on Monday. However, it attracted only one bidder -- Shinkong Synthetic Fibers Corp (新光人纖) chairman Eric Wu (吳東昇) who offered NT$705 million, much lower than Idee's floor price of NT$1.8 billion.

Shinkong spokesman and chief financial officer Kevin Ho (何奇峰) said yesterday that "the company's bid offer is no longer valid," although the company did not rule out further talks.

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