Shein posts record profits in 2023 ahead of planned listing

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Good morning. Online fast-fashion giant Shein has more than doubled its profits as it awaits regulatory approval from Beijing to go ahead with its blockbuster listing in New York or London.

Shein hit a record of more than $2bn in profits for 2023 and recorded roughly $45bn in gross merchandise value, the total value of sold goods on its website, said four people close to the company, which was founded in China but has moved its headquarters to Singapore.

The group’s profits last year surpassed the $700mn of net income it generated in 2022 and $1.1bn in 2021, according to a financing document seen by the FT.

Shein, whose clothes are popular among Gen Z shoppers, is waiting for regulators in Beijing and Washington to approve its listing, which is expected to be the largest initial public offering of the year.

Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Economic data: S&P Global’s March manufacturing purchasing managers’ index data is due for China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.

  • Holiday: Financial markets are closed in Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere for the Easter Monday holiday.

  • Japan: Mitsuko Tottori becomes the first female president of Japan Airlines, succeeding Yuji Akasaka who will now chair the company.

Five more top stories

1. China’s factory activity has expanded for the first time in six months in a positive sign for Beijing as the world’s second-largest economy grapples with a deep property slowdown and weak investor confidence. But China’s statistics bureau warned that companies were still suffering from “insufficient market demand” and called for more policy support.

2. Istanbul’s opposition mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu was leading against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling party in yesterday’s pivotal municipal elections in Turkey, according to preliminary returns. Follow this developing story here.

3. The surge of money flooding into artificial intelligence has resulted in some crypto-like hype and “grifting” that is obscuring the incredible scientific progress in the field, according to Demis Hassabis, co-founder of DeepMind. But the CEO of Google’s AI research division told the FT that he remained convinced that the technology was one of the most transformative inventions in human history. Read the full interview.

4. Tens of thousands of Israelis rallied in Jerusalem yesterday evening in the biggest protest against Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightwing government since the start of the war with Hamas in October last year. The protest called for early elections as well as a deal for the release of roughly 130 hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza.

5. Companies are rushing to meet their financing needs before the US election this year, in a bid to get ahead of potential market volatility in the final stages of the presidential race. Corporate borrowers have issued $606bn worth of dollar bonds so far this year, according to data from LSEG, the highest total since at least 1990.

News in-depth

© Lewis Tse/Dreamstime

Millions of tourists are returning to Macau, driving a recovery for its casinos after years of strict Covid-19 controls and a Beijing-led crackdown on gambling promoters. The influx of mass-market gamblers has offset a slower recovery for the VIP segment after Beijing authorities in 2021 launched a multiyear crackdown on junkets that attracted wealthy high rollers to the Chinese territory.

We’re also reading . . . 

  • ‘The Three-Body Problem’: A Netflix adaptation of the much-loved Chinese bestseller has sparked anger in China.

  • The case for the dislike button: Social media doesn’t have to be so polarising but the options to dissent are limited, writes Elizaveta Konovalova of Warwick Business School.

  • Smartphone bans: China is way ahead of the west in protecting its children from the excesses of technology, writes Camilla Cavendish.

Chart of the day

Traders are betting on a tighter copper market in coming months, as disappointment over China’s stumbling economic growth is overtaken by fears of a squeeze on global supplies. The difference between the spot price and future delivery is the largest ever, in records that go back to 1994, according to Bloomberg data.

Line chart of LME cash price vs LME 3-month price showing Copper enters biggest contango in over two decades

Take a break from the news

What’s the point of private members’ clubs? From restrictive membership policies to elitism and overexpansion — London clubland is under fire. Joy Lo Dico explains why people are still queueing to get in.

The Reform Club
The Reform Club © Dafydd Jones

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