Challenger's net profit in 2015 up 22%, plans to open new online store in April

SINGAPORE - IT products and services provider Challenger will establish a new online store to maintain its relevance in the retail market.

Known as, the portal, which will be unveiled in April 2016, will boast more products, an improved shopper interface and an online sales platform, Challenger said in a statement on Tuesday (Feb 16).

Chief executive Mr Loo Leong Thye said: "Our strong network of offline stores will complement the online business so our customers can enjoy a true shop-anywhere, offline-to-online and vice versa experience."

On Tuesday, the SGX Mainboard-listed technology company also announced net earnings of $18.3 million in 2015, a 22 per cent increase from the $15 million profit recorded the year before.

The IT retailer attributed the higher net profits to higher government grants received and lower operating expenses from the closure of its Malaysia retail operations.

In the final quarter of 2015, net profit also increased by 50 per cent, $7.5 million more than the previous year.

Meanwhile, earnings per share rose by 1.01 cents, from 4.28 cents in 2014 to 5.29 cents in 2015.

However, it recorded a one per cent dip in revenue over the year from $355.1 million in 2014 to $352.2 million, due to lower contribution from retail revenue in Singapore.

Looking at the year ahead, Mr Loo observed that 2016 will continue to be a challenging year for the retail industry.

"Weak market sentiment from last year will spill over into 2016. Hence, retailers like us have to keep innovating to retain existing customers and attract new ones. On top of that, we will continue to focus on other hygiene factors like keeping operating costs low with better cost management and increasing productivity," he said.

Mr Loo added that Challenger is looking to build up to a stronger position by investing resources and manpower for the next three to five years towards its online business.

Currently, Challenger has a total of 48 stores in Singapore. But it revealed last December that it would be closing its flagship megastore in Funan DigitaLife Mall, after it was announced that the mall will shut down this year for redevelopment.