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UPDATE Renaissance to lay off up to 15 workers in store closures, sees gains in full-service retailing

Monday 15th July 2013

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Renaissance Corp, the retailer of Apple products and operator of a design school, expects to lay off 14 or 15 people as it shuts four of its nine retail stores in a bid to regain profitability from the ailing unit.

The Auckland-based company today closed Apple reseller stores in Albany, Britomart, Sylvia Park and Dunedin as part of a plan to get its retail unit back in shape. The remaining stores in Newmarket, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch will offer full service sales in an effort to differentiate them from competitors. Renaissance provides about 80 percent of service work on Apple products.

Chief executive retail Youbee Doug Casement told BusinessDesk seven or eight jobs at the Newmarket and Christchurch stores will be available for staff to apply for, and if those positions are filled there will be about 14 or 15 redundancies.

Casement said the retail focus is now on building up the remaining stores which provide service, rather than simply a straight retail offering.

"We're cautiously optimistic if we focus on customer service and full service, we expect it will turn," Casement said.

The company said it expects another disappointing full-year earnings result, having posted a first-half loss of $3.1 million on sales of $24.7 million. It also took a $2.99 million impairment to write off goodwill on its retail division in the first half.

Renaissance has been in a protracted due diligence process with a party interested in the education unit, formerly known as Natcoll Design Technology, and received a proposal on July 12 which the board is still working through.

The education unit has been performing well, but may fall slightly short of its forecast earnings before interest and tax of $2.4 million, the company said.

Shares in Renaissance were unchanged at 11 cents, having plunged 45 percent this year. That values the company at about $4.8 million.

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