Convenience Retail Asia Limited

Convenience Retail Asia reports
satisfactory growth in sales
and profit for 2002 first quarter

China expansion progresses as planned

Hong Kong, 24 April 2002 - Convenience Retail Asia Limited ("CRA" or "the Group") [SEHK code: 8052], operator of the Circle K convenience store in Hong Kong and China, announced satisfactory growth in both turnover and profit for the first quarter ended 31 March 2002.

The Group's turnover for the period under review was HK$322.6 million, increasing by 7% from HK$301.9 million in 2001 first quarter. This turnover increase was entirely contributed by the sales of new stores. A 5% decrease in sales of comparable stores (stores in existence throughout the first quarter of 2001 and 2002) was recorded reflecting the very difficult retail environment in Hong Kong. As at 31 March 2002, there were a total of 148 CRA-owned-and-managed Circle K stores in Hong Kong, up from 126 as at the end of the first quarter of 2001.

Quarterly net profit rose by 7% to HK$12.0 million from HK$11.3 million in 2001. Increased sales turnover, lower operating and administrative expenses and higher gross margins combined to contribute to the increase. Basic earnings per share remained unchanged at 1.8 HK cents when compared to the same period last year.

Dr. Victor K. Fung, Chairman of CRA, said, "We are encouraged by the satisfactory growth in turnover and profitability for the Group despite an economic downturn and adverse retail environment in Hong Kong. As the economy rebounds, we believe that we shall be able to capitalize on the recovery and maintain our track record of growth."

Mr. Richard Yeung, Chief Executive Officer of CRA, commented, "Closer collaboration with suppliers in product promotion, category management and smart pricing resulted in improvements in our gross margins and other income. We will continue with this strategy while maintaining a tight control of our store expenses."

China Update

The Group's plan to expand into Guangdong has been progressing on schedule. In preparation for new store openings, the Group has committed to acquire two new stores sites located at prime retail areas with high pedestrian traffic. Two other potential store sites are currently under negotiation.

The new outlets will operate in a modified store model, which will emphasize on food services featuring an innovative range of quality food and drink products. Mr. Yeung said, "The new model aims at offering customers an exciting and novel experience while shopping at Circle K. We hope it will ultimately help position Circle K as the premium convenience store chain in Guangzhou."

Business Outlook

In Hong Kong, survey findings indicated that overall consumer sentiment improved slightly but consumers are still cautious on spending. Steady investment in advertising and promotion proved to be effective in increasing overall sales turnover in an unfavorable economic environment in the first quarter of 2002. This provided CRA with a competitive edge to generate repeat purchases and increase value per transaction.

According to Mr. Yeung, the Group will continue to implement an aggressive marketing program to encourage customer spending by providing novelty offers, innovative services and unparalleled value. The Group will also focus on improving net margins through overall cost reductions.


Looking ahead, Mr. Yeung commented, "Short-term uncertainties in the Hong Kong market and start-up costs in the Mainland of China might affect the Group's profit growth. However, as the warm weather sets in in the SAR, we begin to see some healthy growth in the seasonal product categories such as packaged drinks and ice creams. If the trend continues, together with an economic rebound in the US, we believe that retail conditions and businesses should improve in the second half of 2002."

About CRA
Convenience Retail Asia is engaged in the operation of one of the leading convenience store chains in Hong Kong under the brand name of Circle K. The Circle K store chain comprises 148 company-owned-and-managed stores in Hong Kong as of 31 March 2002. Major initiatives are planned for expansion into the southern part of the Mainland of China.

About Li & Fung Retailing
Li & Fung (Retailing) Limited, the holding company of Convenience Retail Asia, was formed in 1985 as a company wholly-owned by Li & Fung (1937) Limited. There are two chains within the retailing group: Circle K and Toys "R" Us. The retailing group's business extends from Hong Kong to Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia, with plans for expansion into the Mainland of China and other South East Asian countries.

For more information, please contact:

Convenience Retail Asia Limited


2991 6000

Mrs. Louisa Kwan

Direct line:

2991 6229

CRA corporate Web site:

Convenience Retail Asia Limited

First Quarterly Results
For the Three Months Ended 31 March 2002
2002 2001

Group turnover 7% HK$322,585,000 HK$301,905,000

Group profit 7% HK$12,024,000 HK$11,256,000

Basic earnings per share - 1.8 HK cents 1.8 HK cents

  • Satisfactory growth in turnover and profitability despite adverse retail environment in Hong Kong.

  • Number of stores in Hong Kong increased by two to 148 during the quarter with an additional four store openings planned.

  • Some volatility in rate of profit growth is expected due to uncertainty in the Hong Kong retail environment.

  • Entry into the Southern China market progressing according to plan.

  • It is anticipated that the Company will continue to incur start-up costs from new operations in the Mainland of China.

  • Strong cash position with HK$351.6 million cash on hand and no bank borrowings as at 31 March 2002.

Convenience Retail Asia Limited

Unaudited Consolidated Profit & Loss Account
Three months ended 31 March
Turnover 322,585 301,905
Cost of sales (243,614) (228,189)

Gross profit 78,971 73,716
Other revenues 22,583 21,600
Store expenses (73,392) (69,018)
Distribution costs (4,396) (4,251)
Administrative expenses (10,739) (10,931)
Start-up costs for China operations (1,076) -

Operating profit 11,951 11,116
Minority interest 73 140

Profit attributable to shareholders 12,024 11,256

Basic earnings per share 1.8 cents 1.8 cents