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SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- E-Mart Inc., South Korea's largest discount store chain by sales, said Wednesday its first-quarter profit dipped 36 percent from a year earlier on the impact of the coronavirus on the retail business.
Net profit for the three months that ended in March fell to 44.5 billion won (US$36 million) from 69.7 billion won in the year-ago period, the company said in a statement.
"E-Mart stores suffered frequent operation suspensions in February and March due to quarantine work to stem the spread of the coronavirus and lower demand on virus fears among customers," the statement said.
"We are planning to focus on upgrading store facilities and to provide more customized products to help weather the COVID-19 virus," a company spokesman said by phone.
Operating profit also declined 35 percent to 48.4 billion won in the first quarter from 74.3 billion won a year ago. Sales rose 14 percent to 5.21 trillion won from 4.59 trillion won during the cited period, it said.
In 2020, E-Mart aims to achieve 21 trillion won in sales by expanding its network of outlets, for which it will spend 845 billion won. In 2019, sales rose 12 percent on-year to 19.06 trillion won.
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