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CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Chinese jeweller Chow Tai Fook profit jumps 108%, eyes expansion

(Corrects paragraph 2 to say net profit surged from HK$2.9 billion in fiscal 2020, not 2019)

* Firm optimistic on China business outlook

* Recovery in the mainland market seen solid

* Company eyes expansion in smaller Chinese cities

HONG KONG, June 8 (Reuters) - Hong Kong-listed Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd reported a forecast-beating 108% jump in annual profit on Tuesday, thanks to one-off COVID-19 related rent concessions, an unrealised gain on gold loans and foreign exchange gains.

China’s largest jeweller by market value said net profit surged to HK$6.03 billion ($777 million) from HK$2.9 billion in fiscal 2020. That compared to a forecast of HK$5.23 billion profit by 14 analysts, Refinitiv SmartEstimate data showed.

It was the highest annual profit since 2014.

A COVID-19 related rent concession amounted to HK$127.6 million as compared to HK$16.2 million in fiscal 2020, while net foreign exchange gain amounted to HK$336.4 million against HK$234 million loss in a year ago period.

Revenue for the year to March 31 rose 23.6% to HK$70.16 billion from HK$56.75 billion a year earlier, driven by retail expansion amid improving consumer sentiment in mainland China and a softer gold price in the second half of the fiscal year.

“As we are optimistic about the mid- to long-term growth in the mainland China market, we will focus on our mainland China’s business development in the coming future,” Chairman Henry Cheng said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

“We will continue our retail expansion strategy through penetrating into lower tier cities and leveraging franchisees’ local knowledge,” he added.

The retail network expanded to 4,591 point-of-sales (POS) by the end of March, with a net addition of 741 POS. The company plans to add at least 700 POS in mainland China in fiscal 2022 but may close 10-15 POS in Hong Kong and Macau.

Same-store sales surged 31.9% in mainland China but plunged 41.3% in Hong Kong and Macau as major border crossings remained closed during the period.

Shares of Chow Tai Fook slid 0.3% on Tuesday prior to the results statement, comparing to a 0.02% fall in the benchmark Hang Seng index.

$1 = 7.7590 Hong Kong dollars Reporting by Donny Kwok and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Edmund Blair

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