China's Belle sees 15-25 pct drop in annual profit on weak footwear sales

HONG KONG, March 20 (Reuters) - China's top footwear

retailer Belle International Holdings Ltd expects its

profit for the year ended February to drop by 15-25 percent from

a year ago due to weak sales.

In October, Belle said its footwear business was full of

challenges as changes in foot traffic across various retail

channels and shifting style preferences of consumers put

pressure on the footwear business.

Belle, which is due to release its yearly results by the end

of May, said in a filing on Sunday that adjustments to its share

award scheme as part of an incentive programme to management had

also led to a significant increase in expenses.

The firm said same store sales of its footwear business fell

6.2 percent for the quarter ended in February, while sportswear

and apparel business saw a 4.5 percent growth in same store

sales. Belle distributes several sportswear brands, including

Nike, Adidas, Puma and Converse.

Its number of retail outlets in mainland China increased by

86, bringing the total to 20,716 outlets at end of February

2017, Belle added.

(Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Himani Sarkar)