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Challenger Technologies going online

To maintain its relevance in a fragmented and slow retail market, Singapore-listed Challenger Technologies will launch a new online store concept in April.

In announcing its results for the full year and fourth quarter ended December 31, the IT products and services provider says the portal, Hachi.sg, will have “significantly” more products, an improved shopper interface and a robust sales platform.

CEO Loo Leong Thye says that with the weak market sentiment from last year spilling over into 2016, retailers like Challenger have to keep innovating to keep customers and attract new ones.

While the group’s net profit for the year increased by 22 per cent to $18.3 million, its fourth-quarter profit ballooned by 50 per cent to $7.5 million, year-on-year. This is mainly attributed to higher government grants received and lower operating expenses following the closure of retail outlets in Malaysia.

During the year, the group also learnt that it will lose its flagship megastore when Funan DigitaLife Mall is demolished to make way for an integrated development.

Group revenue dipped 1 per cent for the full year – by $2.9 million to $352.2 million, mainly because of lower contribution from retail revenue in Singapore and the absence of revenue after closing its Malaysian businesses in the second half of the year. This was partially offset by higher corporate sales and a writeback of deferred revenue on loyalty program activities.

Fourth-quarter revenue shrank by $9 million, or 9 per cent, compared to the same quarter the previous year, attributed mainly to lower retail and corporate sales.

While higher expenses will be incurred to kick-start and grow online sales this year, the online focus corresponds with the overall market trend in the region.

“The next wave of growth is online, and we are building up to a stronger position by investing our resources and manpower for the next three to five years toward the online business,” says Loo. “Our strong network of offline stores will complement the online business.”

Incorporated in 1984 and listed in January 2004, the group has a chain of 48 stores in Singapore, plus more than half a million members in its loyalty program.

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