Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings said its January-September net profit fell by 39% though sales were starting to improve as the global economic downturn eased, the Wall Street Journal reported. The company said its net profits for the period ending September 30 were US$141.3 million, down from US$232.9 million a year earlier. Revenue fell 14% to US$4.6 billion from US$5.3 billion a year earlier. But sales are improving. Sales at stores open at least a year, known as same-store sales, rose 2.1% in the third quarter after an 8.3% decline in the second quarter. Gome Chairman Chen Xiao told reporters during a conference call that he expects a double-digit percentage rise in same-store sales in the fourth quarter. The company closed 158 stores and opened 41 stores in the first nine months of 2009, cutting the company’s total number of stores to 772. The retailer plans to close 13 stores in the fourth quarter. Gome said it shifted its operational focus from increasing revenue to making individual stores more profitable. The decision was made after the company completed a deal in which it raised US$380.6 million from a convertible-bond issue to Bain Capital and an offering of new shares, giving the private-equity firm the equivalent of a 10% stake in the retailer.