Singapore’s largest fashion retailer FJ Benjamin has narrowed its losses for the half-year, and after a profitable December quarter and is upbeat about its prospects for the new half.
The company – which trades in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia – has reported a loss of S$1.3 million, about a third of the $3.7 million it lost in the same period a year earlier. During the three months to December, it turned a profit of $2.2 million, compared with a net loss of $900,000 in the previous corresponding period.
Sales fell 5 per cent to $36.2 million, due to widespread store closures during the September quarter as governments in all three markets restricted store trading hours to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Sales in Singapore fell 12 per cent on-year and in Malaysia by 9 per cent. However, export sales to its Indonesian affiliate more than doubled to $3.4 million.
Lower wage credits from the Singapore government’s Jobs Support Scheme saw non-trading income fall by 61 per cent, but a share of the Indonesian business’ profit delivered $313,000 compared to a $1.8 million loss in the comparable period.
FJ Benjamin CEO Nash Benjamin said the company is focusing on boosting its online capabilities in the half-year ahead, investing in digital marketing and technology. It offers nine brands online currently and is looking to add more. Online now account for 8 per cent of its sales in Singapore and 4 per cent in Malaysia.
Benjamin said that when Covid restrictions were lifted during the second quarter, the company saw “a substantial increase in turnover, as people learnt to live with the virus”.
“Management is cautiously optimistic about prospects, given that Singapore and Malaysia have also started to gradually open their borders to vaccinated travellers.”
FJ Benjamin has licenses for a range of luxury and lifestyle products, including Guess, La Senza, Marc Jacobs, Rebecca Minkoff, Sheridan, Superdry, US Polo, VNC, Baume & Mercier, Casio, and Victorinox Swiss Army. It operates 169 stores.