Wheelock & Co's retailing arm Lane Crawford International yesterday warned that this year's trading results would be weaker than last year after it announced a 95.5 per cent fall in attributable profit to $1.4 million in the year to March. The company, which operates four department stores in Hong Kong, said its first-quarter results this year had fallen below the level in the second half of last year. 'Consumer sentiment is likely to weaken further within the climate of Asian turmoil,' it said yesterday. It said it would 'continue to consolidate management without expanding beyond four stores, rationalise merchandising and manage risk exposure through close co-ordination with vendors'. Profit last year was hit by a $10 million exceptional loss on terminating a rental contract for a proposed flagship store in Tsim Sha Tsui. The previous year's net figure of $31.4 million was also bloated by an exceptional gain of $28.9 million on the sale of long-term investments. Stripping these out, operating profit actually jumped to $11.7 million from $2.7 million. Turnover slipped 12.5 per cent to $1.54 billion. Earnings per A share dropped to 1.3 cents from 27.8 cents, while the final dividend per A share remained unchanged at 13 cents. This took the full-year payout to 21 cents, down from 30 cents previously. In the mainland, the company's 80 per cent owned department store Maison Mode in Shanghai 'progressed beyond operational break-even point'. Lane Crawford said it was debt-free with surplus cash on hand, which would help it face the difficult times ahead.