for those who want to know the company . . .
--- Apr 14 report . . . . .
SINGAPORE - A local firm that has been struggling since the 2008 financial crisis is pinning its hopes of a turnaround on the upcoming Big Box mall in Jurong.
TT International (TTI), which is still under a scheme of arrangement hammered out with creditors in 2010, announced last month that the $320 million complex will open in December.
The 1.3 million sq ft project, TTI's first mall here, must achieve an annual turnover of at least $200 million within the next five years under the Economic Development Board's warehouse retail scheme.
Introduced in 2004, the scheme allows industrial land to be used for retail and warehousing.
Malls by Ikea, Courts and Giant, all in Tampines, were built under the scheme.
TTI said it also intends to expand its retail operations and its sourcing and brand management services and grow its franchisee and home-brand retail stores across Asia to more than 300 stores within five years.
The furniture and furnishings arm F&F, which manages brands such as Novena, Barang Barang and Castilla, will be further developed as well, as will TTA Holdings.
This is an Australia-based and -listed subsidiary 86 per cent owned by TTI.
TTI also signed a 15-year master franchise agreement with French furniture manufacturer Habitat last month.
This involves opening eight stores over three years in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and Brunei.
The first store will open in Big Box.
Executive director Julia Tong told a briefing yesterday that TTI intends to export the Big Box model through partnerships and joint ventures.
TTI may also list its Indonesian subsidiary PT ES, which operates 56 stores in the country.
The firm entered a debt standstill agreement with its creditors to undergo debt restructuring in October 2008.
This was followed by a scheme of arrangement sanctioned by the Singapore High Court in October 2010.
The 2008 crisis hit TTI hard.
Annual sales have been cut by half to about $400 million and headcount initially dropped from more than 4,000 to 2,000 by 2012, although it has risen slightly.
The company recorded a 18.5 per cent drop in revenue to $75.8 million in the quarter ended Dec 31 last year, from $93 million for the same period a year earlier.
Net loss for the same period widened by more than 810 per cent to $3.2 million from $354,000, due mostly to "unrealised foreign exchange losses" amounting to $2.4 million.