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Esprit to staunch losses as early as next year: paper

People shop at an Esprit Outlet store in Singapore September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su
People shop at an Esprit Outlet store in Singapore September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Troubled fashion retailer Esprit Holdings <0330.HK> hopes to put an end to its losses as soon as next year, Chief Executive Jose Manuel Martinez told a German Sunday newspaper.

"I expect that we will soon - maybe even next year - no longer be loss making," he said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Esprit swung to a net loss of HK$4.39 billion ($566 million) after revenue fell 14.1 percent to HK$25.9 billion in the fiscal year to end-June 2013.

For the current 2013/14 fiscal year, Esprit has forecast a further decline in turnover, partly due to store closures, but expects cost cuts will help reduce its operating expenses-to-sales ratio below 50 percent from just over 65 percent in the previous year.

"You cannot expect that after years of shrinking suddenly we would grow by 10 percent, it doesn't work like that. Currently we are doing everything in our power to stabilize the business with growth then the next stage, in perhaps two or three years," said Martinez, who joined in September 2012.

Investors gave the CEO a vote of confidence when he was appointed from Zara-owner Inditex last year, driving Esprit's stock to its biggest one-day gain in 14 years.

($1 = 7.7527 Hong Kong dollars)

(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by Mark Potter)

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