FJ Benjamin returns to profit across all three markets

Fashion and lifestyle retailer FJ Benjamin Holdings has shrugged off the Covid blues returning to profit for the year to June 30. 

Sales in the year to June 30 rose 21 per cent to S$80.9 million (US$58 million). Malaysia showed the strongest growth, up by 28 per cent, with sales in Indonesia up by 16 per cent and in Singapore by 6 per cent.

The company reported a net profit attributable to shareholders of $3 million (US$2.16 million), against a loss of $10.9 million (US$7.8 million) the preceding year. 

Founded in 1959, FJ Benjamin manages 18 brands and operates 144 stores across Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Those brands include La Senza, Cole Haan, Lancel, Guess and Superdry.

The company said the improved result was due to respective governments easing social-distancing restrictions introduced due to the Covid pandemic, the reopening of borders, and the return of shoppers to malls. 

The improved performance was most evident during the second half when the company posted a net profit of $4.3 million against a loss of $7.2 million for the same period a year earlier. That was despite a writedown of $1.5 million for impairments and other one-off costs.

FJ Benjamin also booked $1.9 million as its share of the profit from its Indonesian associate, almost reversing the previous year’s loss of $2.4 million. 

“Although our revenue is not fully back to pre-Covid-19 levels, especially in Singapore, with tourist arrivals growing, we are cautiously optimistic that the strong momentum seen in the second half of FY22 can be maintained barring any unforeseen circumstances,” said group CEO, Nash Benjamin. 

However, he said while it was encouraging to see a recovery across the three markets in which it operates, the group is aware that “there are rising inflationary and geopolitical risks” that management will need to “manage and mitigate”. 

The company now sells 14 of its brands online, with e-commerce accounting for 6 per cent of its turnover in Singapore and 3 per cent in Malaysia. However, online sales have eased since Covid restrictions were lifted.

The company finished the year with 144 stores, after closing 21 and opening seven.

“We will continue to optimise our inventory and manage costs while we develop new business models to diversify our customer base,” said Benjamin. 

The company’s gross profit margin eased from 50.5 per cent in FY21 to 49.4 per cent last year as stock was cleared in the Malaysia business to satisfy pent-up demand.