TT International to expand retail operations as it plans path back to profitability

Singapore-listed TT International has announced plans to return the company to profitability in the next few years, after running into cashflow problems as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis.

TT, which is still under a 2010 scheme of arrangement with creditors, intends to make Big Box - its new warehouse-cum-retail mall in Jurong - the company's core revenue driver when it opens in December 2014.

TT announced the $320 million, 1.3 million sq ft project earlier this month. The project, TT's first mall here, must achieve a turnover of at least $200 million within the next five years under the Economic Development Board's warehouse retail scheme.

In addition, TT intends to expand its retail operations and its sourcing and brand management services.

It aims to grow its current franchisee and home-brand retail stores across Asia to over 300 stores or 3 million sq ft, the company said.

It will also expand its furniture and furnishings arm F&F, which manages brands such as Novena, Barang Barang and Castilla, as well as its consumer electronics marketing and distribution unit TTA Holdings, which is 86 per cent-owned by TT.

TT this month signed a 15-year master franchise agreement with French furniture manufacturer Habitat, which will see it open eight stores over three years in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and Brunei. Big Box will carry the first store.

The company entered a debt standstill agreement with its creditors to undergo debt restructuring in October 2008, which was followed by a scheme of arrangement sanctioned by the Singapore High Court in October 2010.

Executive director Julia Tong said that it took TT "tremendous effort to stabilise".

"We were set back by about five years, so it will take us four to five years to catch up. We aim to reach pre-crisis levels at least," she said.