Unprofitable bookstore chain Eslite lokos to SE Asia

Business | 5 Dec 2019 10:41 am

Eslite Spectrum Corp, which runs the Eslite bookstore chain and other businesses at home and abroad, is mulling opening new outlets in Southeast Asia, although bookstore operations remain unprofitable, chairwoman Mercy Wu said yesterday.

The Taipei-based conglomerate is studying the possibility of making inroads in Southeast Asia in line with plans to strengthen its cultural innovation business, including 50 bookstores in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Japan, Wu said, Taipei Times reports.

“Today, profitability continues to pose the biggest challenge for Eslite as it turns 30 years old this year,” Wu told a news conference in Taipei, while announcing the bookstore chain’s annual report on reading behaviors and market trends.

Wu, who took over the company’s reins in 2017 after the sudden death of her father, Robert Wu, said that the bookstores had to increase capital by NT$2 billion (US$65.56 million) over the years to stay in business.

The company has identified 100 sources of losses, but has yet to find a profitable business model, she said, adding that no enterprise in the world can live off running bookstores as its core operation.

Eslite Spectrum also runs department stores and restaurants, and sells appliances and equipment for hotels, restaurants, kitchens and wine cellars.

Malaysia appears the most likely venue, as 25 percent of its population is ethnic Chinese, making expansion easier, Mercy Wu said.

Hopefully, the bookstore chain can cast off its “unprofitable” shackles to prolong its existence, Mercy Wu said, adding that she is eager to keep the passion for the cultural business alive.

Eslite Spectrum reported that consolidated revenue increased by 18.14 percent year-on-year to NT$4.31 billion in the first 10 months of this year.

In the first three quarters, net income fell by 29.31 percent to NT$184.01 million, or earnings per share of NT$3.88, company data showed.

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