Hong Kong-based food retailer Dairy Farm International has reported a 59% fall in 2003 pre-tax profit, despite a rise in revenue.

The company said pre-tax profit was US$143m for 2003, compared to $351m in the previous year. Revenue rose 3.2% to $3.46bn from $3.35bn a year earlier, while revenue at its supermarket and hypermarket operations rose 12%, reported the Asian Wall Street Journal.

Dairy Farm said underlying profit rose 24% to $126m from $102m in the previous year.

The company said its results were hit by the poor performance of its Hong Kong restaurant associate Maxim’s, where profit fell 31% due to the outbreak of SARS.

Dairy Farm said current indications point to an improvement in economic conditions in Asia this year, but said 2004 would still be challenging due to local competition.