FJ Benjamin sales fall but restructure ‘on track’

F J Benjamin, Singapore’s largest fashion and lifestyle retailer, has reported a 15 per cent quarterly sales decline, citing subdued consumer sentiment in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Sales totalled S$63.7 million in the three months to September 30, down from $75.4 million in the previous corresponding quarter. Gross profit fell 24 per cent.

“The challenging retail sector was further compounded by a combination of factors including lower tourist arrivals, exchange rate volatility and the disruptive haze situation in the region,” the company said in its filing.

With operating expenses lowered by 31 per cent, the company managed to more than halve its operating loss for the period from $6.5 million to $3.1 million, but a one time gain of $7.2 million pushed it into the black fro the quarter.

Gross margin declined 4.6 percentage points from 43.8 per cent to 39.2 per cent year on year.

“While gross margins generated from retail sales continued to be healthy and on par with [last year], the decline was attributable to higher discounts given on the timepiece wholesale business and a less favourable mix of retail and wholesale sales.

In Singapore, FJ Benjamin sells a long list of brands including Celine, Givenchy, Goyard, Loewe, Raoul, Tom Ford, Valextra, Banana Republic, Gap, Guess, La Senza, Marciano, Superdry, Nautica, Swarovski, and Sheridan.

CEO Nash Benjamin said the company is on track to complete its rationalisation program by the end of December.

“With the uncertain global economic outlook, we expect consumer sentiment to remain muted in the mid-term. However, we are in a better position to engage the market with a robust cost structure and improved operational efficiencies through the on-going rationalisation exercise,” he said.

“With the festive period leading up to Chinese New Year approaching, the group is taking steps to maximise sales through various channels, promotions and events.”

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