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FJ Benjamin posts fifth red quarter with S$5.1 million loss

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LOWER foot traffic in malls and tighter consumer spending has pushed fashion and lifestyle group FJ Benjamin deeper into the red in the third quarter.

LOWER foot traffic in malls and tighter consumer spending has pushed fashion and lifestyle group FJ Benjamin deeper into the red in the third quarter.

The firm made a net loss of S$5.1 million for the three months to March 31, compared with a deficit of S$7.0 million in the same period last year.

It is the fifth consecutive quarter of red ink for the mainboard-listed firm, which posted a S$3.7 million loss in the preceding quarter.

First-quarter revenue shrank to S$61.0 million, down 13 per cent from S$69.7 million in the previous corresponding period

The dip in earnings was due to a S$5.8 million drop in revenue arising from the closure of non-performing stores and discontinued business, and S$3 million from the weakening translation of the Malaysian ringgit, the firm said. It shuttered the last remaining retail outlet of homegrown fashion label Raoul in February this year.

Gross margins fell from 43 per cent to 41 per cent in the quarter as the firm "increased promotional activities in Malaysia to drive sales".

Noting that "consumer spending continues to be under pressure with the prevailing slowdown of regional economies and currency volatility", the firm's chief executive Nash Benjamin cautioned that "the operating environment for retailers is expected to remain challenging given the headwinds facing the sector and global economies".

The firm has been placed in a Singapore Exchange watch-list since March this year, as it does not comply with the minimum trading price requirement of 20 Singapore cents per share for mainboard companies in the local bourse.

It closed trading 0.6 Singapore cent lower at 7.1 Singapore cents per share on Thursday.