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Discount retailer Don Quijote Co. said Tuesday it expects double-digit earnings growth for the year through June, despite a spate of apparent arson fires, including a fatal blaze, that hit its outlets late last year.

The company expects its net profit for the current fiscal year to grow 12 percent year-on-year to 7.8 billion yen, on revenue of 232 billion yen, up 20 percent.

Three employees were killed in a fire that gutted its outlet in Saitama in mid-December amid the string of suspected arson fires targeting its stores.

Same-store sales, or turnover from those open at least 13 months, dropped by 4.2 percent in December, with many shoppers obviously scared away by the incidents.

In the wake of the deaths, the chain was criticized for its signature chaotic store layouts, with products, some easily flammable, stocked from floor to ceiling in narrow, maze-like aisles that made escape from fires very difficult.

The company said it has been working to improve fire safety, noting it spent 850 million yen on safety measures, including installing more sprinklers and smoke detectors. It also spent 500 million yen to hire security guards for its stores.

The company said damages from fires at three outlets amounted to 910 million yen, though most of it will be covered by insurance. It said the negative impact of the fires on its sales was temporary, noting that its same-store sales in January grew by 3.6 percent.

For the first six months that ended in December, its net profit rose 10 percent to 4.29 billion yen, with sales jumping 27 percent to 119.37 billion yen.

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