Second Chance Properties (SCP) has closed all its First Lady boutiques in Malaysia except for one megastore in Kuala Lumpur.
The move was taken to reduce losses, SCP chief executive officer Salleh Marican told Singapore's Berita Harian daily.
Last year, SCP closed the remaining eight First Lady boutiques across Malaysia, including those in Johor state and Kuala Lumpur. This was a far cry from its heyday five years ago, when it had 48 First Lady boutiques in Malaysia.
"The user's taste has changed. When we opened First Lady 15 years ago, most Malay women wore baju kurung (traditional Malay dress)," Mr Salleh said.
"These days, Malay women, including those who wear the hijab (Muslim headdress), prefer Western clothes and they buy clothes from brands like H&M and Mango. Online businesses also affected our business."
He added: "Rather than continuing with steep losses, it is better to close the boutiques."
The ringgit's depreciation against the Singapore dollar also affected First Lady's earnings.
Still, SCP is maintaining First Lady's flagship store, which is located in a 10-storey building that it owns in the popular Masjid India shopping area in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur.
Half of this building is used as the retail outlet. The other half is used as offices and stores and has been rented out to other companies.
Mainboard-listed SCP recently announced that its net profit for the first quarter ending Nov 30 had plunged by 90 per cent to $218,000, compared with a $2.23 million profit in the same period last year.
Speaking to Berita Harian, a Singapore Press Holdings publication, Mr Salleh said: "In Singapore, the First Lady boutique in Tanjong Katong Complex is also facing challenges due to the fierce competition from online retailers.
"But it is still profitable, though (not as much as) in previous years. In the past, we could earn $1 million from the First Lady boutique but now, we can make only around $200,000."
He added that the company's gold business, Golden Chance, was still profitable, with $340,000 profit in the first quarter ended Nov 30 last year, 2.86 per cent lower than in the same comparable period. Its real estate business posted a profit of $1.51 million, down by $490,000 due to lower rental income.
SCP has several property units, including 12 at Sim Lim Square, 22 at City Plaza, and others in Peninsula Plaza, Lucky Plaza, Bedok and Toa Payoh.