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F J Benjamin in talks with potential international investor

Monday, November 14, 2016 - 18:26

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AN international group is looking to invest in F J Benjamin, the local manager of brands such as Givenchy and Bell & Ross.

AN international group is looking to invest in F J Benjamin, the local manager of brands such as Givenchy and Bell & Ross.

F J Benjamin said on Monday it had entered on the same day into a non-binding term sheet, a document that sets out the terms and conditions under which an investment will be made, with an international third party.

This term sheet would be "in relation to a potential transaction which may enhance or unlock shareholder value", it said in a release to Singapore Exchange after trading on Monday ended.

This potential investment comes as Singapore's retail scene is going through a rough patch in recent months.

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Official numbers show that the number of visitors to Singapore rose 14 per cent from January to March this year from the same period last year, but receipts increased by a mere 2 per cent. Vacancy rates in malls in the three months to June 30 also rose to 7.8 per cent, from 7.3 per cent in the previous quarter.

F J Benjamin, which manages over 20 brands and operates 226 stores in eight cities, has taken a hit. One of its most internationally acclaimed labels, Raoul, had quietly shut down. Its last store in Singapore, located in Paragon mall, closed in February.

For the financial year ended June 30, 2016, the company saw its net loss balloon by 35 per cent to about S$23.5 million, while revenue decreased only by 14 per cent to S$253.6 million. This was its third consecutive year of loss making.

Wrote F J Benjamin in Monday's release of the term sheet: "Shareholders should note that there is no certainty that definitive documents will be entered into between the company and the third party in connection with the potential transaction or that the potential transaction will be completed."

F J Benjamin's counter closed on Friday at 4.2 Singapore cents.

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