DEPARTMENT store operator Sincere Co has slashed its attributable losses for the six months to August 31 to $7.18 million, from last year's $78.35 million. Operating losses during the period were reduced to $29.6 million from a loss of $63.2 million. With a $6.63 million exceptional gain, total operating loss was reduced to $22.98 million. Sincere executive chairman Walter Ma said turnover at the company's stores in Hong Kong dropped, 'reflecting poor consumer sentiment and a generally weaker economy'. But turnover from its retail business in the territory during the period increased 14 per cent to $287 million, due to first-time contributions from the company's new stores at Kowloon City Plaza and Signature in Causeway Bay. He said Signature was expected to contribute to profitability in the near future. 'While business in the first few months of its operation has been slow, we are continuing to upgrade our merchandise and monitor consumer response,' Mr Ma said. 'We are confident that business at Signature will eventually pick up.' Overall turnover increased to $355.14 million from $295 million. Losses per share were reduced to 1.3 cents from 13.6 cents. No dividend was declared. Loss before taxation was reduced to $7.05 million from $76.77 million. The group's share of profit from associated companies stood at a positive $15.92 million against a negative $13.54 million in 1994. The exceptionals were broken down to a $4.04 million gain from the sale of units at its shopping centre, Sincere House, and $2.58 million taken in from the disposal of land and buildings. Mr Ma said the reduced losses were 'largely due to tighter control of operating costs and an improvement on the group's investment returns'. He added: 'The retail industry in Hong Kong has remained weak in 1995. 'Looking ahead, the group is cautiously optimistic that consumer sentiment will gradually recover in Hong Kong, although the short-term outlook remains poor.' Mr Ma said the outlook for the China market was positive, because of a sharp fall in the country's inflation rate. There had been a noticeable improvement in consumer spending in Shanghai during the period, which helped to increase turnover at Shanghai Sincere, he said. It also was expected that a store in Dalian would be operational by mid-1997. Excavation works had already been completed. The group's residential developments in London were 'progressing well and a return on these projects is expected to arise during the second half of the financial year'.