Esprit Holdings reports that sales for the first half ended Dec. 31 dropped by 3.1 percent to 18.5 billion Hong Kong dollars (€1.67bn-$2.3bn), with a 5 percent decline in net profit to HK$2.7 billion (€190m-$260m). Retail revenues grew by 9.5 percent compared with the previous year. Chew Fook Aun, the company's chief financial officer, said that orders were down by the mid-teens for the January-April period, but the situation was getting better gradually. It has downgraded its expectations for store openings, with its previous goal of 80 now down to 50. Separately, Esprit has accepted a five-year term loan of HK$2.6 billion (€185m-$260m) to buy out its retail joint venture in China. It already owns 49 percent of the venture, called Esprit China; it said in December that it wanted to buy the other 51 percent from China Resources Enterprise for HK$3.88 billion (€280m-$390m). Esprit China has 1,100 points of sale for Esprit and Red Earth brand products.