Joyce Boutique Holdings founder and chief executive Joyce Ma yesterday hit back at criticism that the retailer, which revealed provisions of $80 million in the year to March 31 relating to the closure of its regional operations, expanded too rapidly. On top of the $50 million in provisions for last December's closure of the Bangkok flagship store, the company also shut stores in South Korea and the Philippines. That cost a further $30 million, Mrs Ma's husband and chairman, Walter Ma King-wah, said. The company will also shut down by June its two boutiques in Thailand, eventually limiting its regional presence to Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong, he said. Analysts said Joyce's problems had arisen from aggressive expansion that preceded a slump caused by the regional financial crisis. Mrs Ma said: 'I was hurt a lot by the criticism. We would have lost everything in Hong Kong if we had not gone to the region. 'We didn't splurge money when expanding. But we took risks. The press should praise our commitment a little. There were other factors that affected the company and were out of our control.' She cited factors such as a dispute with a landlord and the unstable supply of electricity which caused the closure of its flagship store in Bangkok. Yesterday, the company opened its $12 million flagship store in New World Tower, Central, after relocating from the nearby Galleria as part of a consolidation programme. Rent at the 15,000 square foot new store was 25 per cent below the old site, Mr Ma said. 'We have also successfully negotiated a double-digit decrease in overall rent,' he said. Joyce received a boost last month when the Ma family injected more than $41 million cash into the company by participating in a $78 million rights issue. Mr Ma said the company's financial position had improved and it now had a $400 million cash facility, of which only a quarter was being used. The consolidation, which aims to cut operating costs of $110 million over the next 12 months, included axing 88 staff in February and cutting rent by moving the Central office headquarters to Aberdeen.