Retailers Joyce Boutique Holdings Ltd has applied for an extension to a waiver on listing regulations, as they attempt to increase the level of shares held by public bodies.

Listing regulations state that the company must have 25 per cent of their capital held by public bodies, but at the close of business on Friday, the end for the previous waiver, the company had only managed to increase public shareholders to 23.81 per cent.

The company claim that they have been unable to reach the 25 per cent target due to an inactive market and slow trading in their shares, despite majority shareholder Wheelock & Co managing to sell 59.7 million shares in the past month.

The application has resulted in the stock exchange closely monitoring trading in the company shares to ensure that a false market does not exist. If their findings prove positive then they will be forced to suspend trading in the shares.

Joyce fell into financial trouble following the financial crisis in Asia, as the flow of Japanese tourists into Hong Kong slowed and demand for the fashion brands dropped.

Wheelock stepped in to help out the struggling Joyce resulting in a majority share holding of 57 per cent, with 23 per cent being retained by the Ma family - the company founders.