Apparel manufacturer and retailer Hing Yiap Knitting Industries Bhd expects to boost its earnings by up to 20 per cent in the financial year ending 30 June 2006 by switching to a new business model. 

Group chief executive officer Khoo Henn Kuan said the company plans to open more individual concept retail outlets selling casual wear brands such as B.U.M. Equipment and Diesel to more sophisticated consumers.

At the same time it will shift away from its existing 500 fashion counters in department stores.

Speaking after the company's AGM in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Khoo Henn Kuan said 20 concept stores would open by fiscal 2006, adding to its existing 30 outlets nationwide.
Tough competition in the garment industry meant that for the first quarter ended 30 Sept 2004, Hing Yiap posted a net loss of RM1.55 million on sales of RM26.62 million.

Garment production now represents just 10 per cent of the company's activities, although it still produces about 2.5 million garments per year in its Kepong factory.