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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

OCTOBER 8, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 40

M A N A G E R S   A T   W A R

ADRIENNE MA, JOYCE BOUTIQUE:
She was considered the baby of the family. But fixing mom's Crisis-hit fashion empire, Ma grew up fast

Dan Groshong for Asiaweek
Daughter Knows Best
By YULANDA CHUNG Hong Kong

When the Crisis shattered Hong Kong's complacent retail sector, the luxury end of the market was hardest hit. At Joyce Boutique, there was a sudden dearth of buyers for $2,000 Armani suits. Sales plunged at home, and at some 40 outlets in Thailand, the Philippines and Korea. Someone had to make the hard choices. That person was Adrienne Ma, daughter of stylish Joyce Ma, who founded Joyce 29 years ago. "No one has learned more in such a short time as I have," says Joyce's 33-year-old managing director.

    MANAGERS AT WAR
Employees First Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific

Gambling with the Truth Sanan Angubolkul, Srithai Superware

A Scion Ditches the Past Cho Jung Ho, Hanjin Securities

Daughter Knows Best Adrienne Ma, Joyce Boutique

When Creditors Scream Rini Suwandi, Astra International

Money, Money, Money Hayakawa Shigezo, Misumi Corp.

Ma had to convince her parents that drastic measures were required. "We had very heated debates at the dinner table," she says. "I held on to my points until Iturned green." No one wanted to face reality, certainly not the company managers who had been telling staff: "It's okay. It's okay." Ma sat down with them and told them to let go of 30% of the staff. "But they seldom came back with 30%," she says, "and I had to make the painful cuts."In the end 90 people in Hong Kong were laid off. "You could find a million and one reasons not to fire them," says Ma. Another 100 were sacked across the region.

To save money, Ma moved Joyce's corporate office to an industrial district and the flagship store into less desirable space. The landlords, she says, were not helpful. "In the so-called good days they were so accommodating. When things turn ugly they go: 'Huh? What do you want?' It's such a condescending attitude." Last December, she sold 20% of the listed company to Italian fashion and media group Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali, reducing the family stake to 47%. In the year to March, Joyce lost $11.34 million, down from $26.74 million the previous year. Turnover slid 30% to $101.2 million. For Ma, the process has been painful but she has at least earned her parents' respect. "Because I'm the youngest," she says, "I've always been the mui mui [little sister]." Not anymore.

NEXT: When Creditors Scream



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