A slump in demand brought on by the global economic downturn has led to a 68% cut in full-year profits at Weiqiao Textile, China's leading cotton producer.

Revenue for the 12 months to 31 December 2008 dropped 11.5% to RMB16.453bn (US$2.4bn), while net profit was down 68.1% to RMB596m.

Gross profit fell 46.2% to RMB1.431bn.

Weiqiao blamed the profit decline on a slump in demand from the external textile market, more intense competition in the domestic textile product market, plus its own strategy of reducing selling prices.

"The global financial tsunami triggered by the US sub-prime crisis in 2008 had a heavy impact on the global economy," said Weiqiao chairman Zhang Hongxia.

"In this difficult and changing market environment, Weiqiao Textile's operational results were also significantly affected."

Production at the company fell 8.1% to 819,000 tons in 2008, which the company attributed to an increase in the production of medium to high-end products.

Zhang pledged that Weiqiao would continue to upgrade production facilities, improve efficiency and strengthen cost control during 2009, which she said would remain "very challenging".

The company is also aiming to increase its market share for medium to high-end products, she added.