JAPANESE fashion group Iwai's International Holdings is to list on the stock exchange with an issue of 50 million shares to the public. The group, which expects to start trading on October 20, is offering 31.37 million new shares and 18.62 million shares from existing shareholders. The shares, with a face value of 10 cents each, will be issued at $1 each. Masaru Iwai, the chairman and managing director, said the company planned to use the $30 million net proceeds to finance the promotion and development of its own fashion line, Renouveau, in Japan, the establishment of boutiques in Hong Kong and the repayment of bank loans. John Lee, managing director of Lippo Asia, which is one of the underwriters of the new issue, said the company would not make a placement and would offer all the shares to the public. For the past financial year to March 31, earnings per share were 22.2 cents, with pro forma fully diluted earnings per share at 17.3 cents. The shares would have a price-earnings multiple of 4.5 times and a pro forma fully diluted price-earnings multiple of 5.8 times. Iwai's is engaged in the retail of middle to high-grade fashion apparel and accessories in Hong Kong, having 41 outlets in the territory, mainly in large Japanese department stores such as UNY, Seibu and Matsuzakaya. Mr Iwai said the group was carrying out its listing plans in spite of the poor retail environment because it remained confident that investors would take advantage of the share issue. The poor retail business had forced down high rentals, which had been eating into the group's profits, he said. Mr Iwai said the group was confident in maintaining its profit next year. Business turnover was $129 million in the past fiscal year, a 3.9 per cent increase compared with the previous year. Profit attributable to shareholders was $44 million, compared with $15 million previously. Mr Lee said he was confident the group would do well in Japan because Hong Kong fashion was getting popular there as it was similar to the styles of European fashion houses, but the price was much cheaper. 'I have much confidence in the group's potential,' Mr Lee said. The group has a number of ladies' fashion brand names aiming at consumers from 16 to 40, such as Alain Manoukian, Attribis, Because, Earnest Le Gamin and Et Vous. The group recently began exporting its Renouveau brand name to a department store and a wholesaler in Japan and a retailer in Taiwan. Mr Iwai said the group was planning to expand into the Japanese market and forecast that this would contribute 30 per cent to business turnover in five years. The group also operates an antique shop in Matsuzakaya, which sells antique and collector's items such as oil paintings, watches, coins, pens and sculptures. The shop contributes two per cent of the group's turnover. Ladies' wear and accessories make up 83 per cent of turnover, children's wear 10 per cent, and menswear and accessories the balance.