China's largest cotton producer Weiqiao Textile Company saw turnover rise 34% and gross profit increase nearly 20% in the first half of 2006. The company has also named a new chairman.

The company's turnover reached CNY9.26bn (US$1.16bn), up 34% on the first half of 2005. Gross profit leapt 19.7% to CNY1.44bn, with net profit up 27.3% to CNY601m.

Domestic sales were CNY6.14bn, accounting for 66% of the company's total turnover, with sales in Hong Kong continuing to increase, reaching CNY1.39bn. International sales to East Asia and further afield continued to decline, down about 20% between them and now accounting for less than 20% of the company's business.

Zhang Hongxia, new chairman of Weiqiao, said the company had focused strongly on the Chinese market, aggressively expanding its production scale and enhancing its sales momentum.

"2006 is the first year of the 'Eleventh Five-year Plan' and the growth of China's economy will be driven more by consumption than by investment," she said.

"As a result, the textile industry will rely less on exports and more on growth in domestic demand. As the domestic market grows in importance, operating risks in the textile industry will diminish."

Zhang replaces Zhang Bo, who resigned due to 'work re-assignment', the company said in a statement.

Weiqiao added that there had been no disagreement between the former chairman and the board that needs to be brought to the attention of shareholders.