Esprit shares slide as top executive quits unexpectedly

An Esprit store in Hong Kong
Image caption Esprit was founded in the US but listed in Hong Kong in 1993

Shares in Esprit fell sharply in Hong Kong trading after the fashion retailer said a top executive had resigned.

Its shares were down 10.7% at HK$10.70 after Esprit announced that Chew Fook Aun, its chief financial officer, would leave the company.

The resignation was unexpected and comes at a sensitive time for the company, which saw its profits plunge by 98% in its last financial year.

Analysts said the retailer has no clear brand image.

It has also struggled to compete against the cheaper prices of H&M and the more fashion forward Zara.

Esprit has launched a transformation plan to rebuild its brand, hiring supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

It is also transferring "strategic functions" to the company's business headquarters in Ratingen, Germany.

"This would also require the group chief financial officer to travel extensively to Europe to supervise the implementation of the transformation plan," the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The company said that Mr Chew was unable to spend the required time in Europe due to personal reasons.

He would leave on or before June 1, 2012, the company said.

Esprit was founded in the US in the 1960s but has been listed in Hong Kong since 1993.

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