MIRAMAR Hotel & Investment Co says profit surged 56.7 per cent. The company yesterday said profit attributable to shareholders for the six months to September 30 rose to $33.12 million from $21.13 million in the corresponding period last year. In the previous period, the company recorded a 47.5 per cent plunge in net profit on turnover down 5.6 per cent from a year earlier. Turnover in the latest period was steady at $545.34 million, compared with $544.37 million previously. Earnings per share rose 50.6 per cent to 5.74 cents from 3.81 cents. Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of five cents per share, compared with three cents a year ago. The company attributed the improved performance to high occupancy in Chiwan Tower in Park Lane Square. An average 95 per cent occupancy rate was achieved and an extension project was underway to add six more floors to the tower. The company's core hotel business also recorded a stable performance with an average occupancy rate of more than 80 per cent for the 500-room Miramar Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. Despite plans announced last year to redevelop the hotel into a commercial complex, no demolition work has been carried out so far. Some hotel analysts believe the company is having second thoughts because the demand for commercial office space has gone flat. The Government's decision in August to increase hotel plot ratios to the maximum of 15 times also might have discouraged the company from proceeding with the redevelopment. The new plot ratio is in line with the standard for office buildings. The company's revenue from the leasing of retail space was battered by sluggish consumer spending. There was a slight drop in the leasing of retail units at the Park Lane Square shopping arcade on Nathan Road. Food and beverage business continued to suffer, and the company did not expect an early recovery for the catering arm. Miramar Express, the group's travel division, saw steady growth in the number of tours and it expanded its retailing network to eight branches. The group's property development projects in China also contributed to overall income. It said 70 per cent of office units and 40 per cent of the commercial-residential units in Guang Fat Gardens in Guangzhou were sold.