Fashion group F J Benjamin posts lower Q2 net profit

Fashion and lifestyle group F J Benjamin Holdings posted a lower net profit for the second quarter, due to a softer retail market in South-east Asia and a slump in demand for luxury timepieces in North Asia.

Net profit fell 53 per cent to $531,000 in the three months to Dec 31, compared with the same period last year.

Excluding a gain of $920,000 from the sale of a Hong Kong leasehold property last year, earnings for the second quarter would be more than double compared with the same period last year.

Group turnover rose 8 per cent to $104.6 million.

The firm said in a statement that profits in Singapore and Malaysia were hurt by "rampant industry clearance ahead and during the Christmas and year-end holiday season".

Foot traffic in Singapore stores was down, partly due to the devaluations of the rupiah and ringgit, translating to less spending by Indonesian and Malaysian tourists.

Group operating profit rose 36 per cent to $2.6 million as the company managed operating costs, resulting in group operating expenses of $40 million, which was $2 million less than the same period last year.

This pushed cost to revenue ratio down at 38.2 per cent compared with 43.4 per cent in the same period last year.

The retail fashion business in South-east Asia rose 10 per cent, buoyed by new store openings and comparable store growth for some brands.

However, the firm noted that the overall retail climate in the region remained relatively subdued during the second quarter.

In North Asia, revenue fell 26 per cent, mostly due to the slower demand for luxury timepieces in China and less spending by mainland Chinese visitors in Hong Kong.