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F J Benjamin back in black with Q2 profit of S$960,000

AFTER reporting two consecutive quarters of losses, fashion retailer F J Benjamin (FJB) has managed to swing back into the black in the second quarter with a net profit of S$961,000.

For the three months ended Dec 31, 2017, FJB's better operating profit of S$956,000 helped to lift earnings, compared to an operating loss of S$3.6 million a year ago which dragged the group into a net loss of S$7.3 million in Q2 2017.

Earnings per share for Q2 2018 stood at 0.17 Singapore cent, up from loss per share of 1.28 Singapore cents the year before.

In Q2 2018, however, revenue fell 19 per cent to S$50.5 million due to a restructuring exercise the group underwent. The drop in revenue reflected the absence of several loss-making brands and businesses which were terminated as part of the exercise that is now completed, FJB said.

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The S$12 million decline in revenue comprised S$6.8 million of discontinued businesses and an S$8.2 million reduction in shipments to the group's Indonesian associate company which started buying directly from some of its principals in April 2017. The decline in sales was partially offset by a S$3.3 million increase in ongoing businesses.

Sales in Singapore and Malaysia grew by S$3.3 million excluding the effect of a S$0.3 million currency translation loss from the depreciation of the ringgit against the Singapore dollar.

Revenue from the fashion business in South-east Asia increased by 13 per cent, excluding the effect of purchase by Indonesian associate, discontinued brands and translation loss from the weakening of the ringgit. Revenue from the timepiece business declined by 17 per cent.

Group CEO Nash Benjamin said the company is "pleased" to report a return to profitability after a "painful restructuring exercise".

"With consumer sentiment improving in South-east Asia, management is working hard to grow our business organically while exploring suitable opportunities in the consumer and lifestyle segments," he added.

Separately, FJB gave an update on Monday on its plans to be removed from the Singapore Exchange's watch-list.

In a bourse filing, it said that part of its plans included an ongoing discussion with an international third party regarding a potential transaction which "may enhance or unlock shareholder value".

The company has been on the watch-list under the minimum trading price entry criteria since June 5, 2017.

It said on Monday that it is aware of the deadline given by SGX for its removal from the watch-list and "will endeavour to meet the requirements".

The board will give shareholders an update on any material developments.

FJB has also been on the SGX's watch-list under the financial criteria since Dec 5, 2016. The group is given until Dec 4, 2019 to exit.

FJB closed 0.1 Singapore cent lower, or 1.3 per cent, to S$0.077 on Monday.

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