THE FINANCIAL YEAR SAW US CAPITALISING ON FAVOURABLE MARKET CONDITIONS TO ACQUIRE SINCERE WATCH FOR $84.7 MILLION IN CASH.
Amidst a challenging climate, Cortina Holdings Limited (“the Group”) delivered a resilient performance for the financial year ended 31 March 2021 (“FY2021”). As COVID-19 severely disrupted economic activities around the world, global economic growth contracted during the year, with Singapore’s economy shrinking 5.4%. Despite the sombre external environment, we remained committed to ensuring operational excellence while upholding a prudent approach to bolstering performance and securing long-term value creation.
Throughout FY2021, the Group delivered consistent results. Total revenue reached S$436.7 million, representing a year-on-year decline of 15.0%. The lower turnover stemmed from the disruption to global supply chains as countries implemented travel and activity lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This led to a temporary shortfall in the supply of watches for approximately three months. Additionally, our top line was impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions, with the fall in tourist arrivals contributing to low retail activity for several months across the markets where we operate. Thailand emerged as our top performer on the back of strong domestic spending and consumption, while Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan achieved stable results.
Against this backdrop, net profit edged up 2.7% to S$42.8 million, due to good stock management, an uptick in sales margin of 29.1% (last year: 27.2%) and payroll and rental supports from various parties. The higher sales margin was attributable to the price resilience of our products and sustained demand for luxury watches. Meanwhile, the year in review saw the Group generating net operating cash inflow of S$92.6 million, including adjustment for S$23.0 million of depreciation for right-of-use assets. Net asset value per share rose to 156.1 cents, against 140.0 cents last year, while earnings per share recorded an uptick to 23.9 cents, compared to 23.7 cents in FY2020.
EXPANDING OUR FOOTPRINT, ENHANCING OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY
At Cortina Holdings, we adopt a forward-looking and proactive strategy to augment performance and drive value creation. The financial year saw us capitalising on favourable market conditions to acquire Sincere Watch for $84.7 million in cash. Apart from delivering cost savings, this strategic acquisition offers operational synergy through the cross-selling of products and pooling of resources. In addition, the move brings Franck Muller into Cortina’s growing stable of luxury brands, while enhancing our brand equity and competitive edge in the luxury watch sector.
In our quest to drive greater operational efficiency, we regularly review the performance of our retail outlets to enhance same-store sales. During the year, we closed our Rolex boutique at Marina Square in Singapore in light of the mall’s sub-optimal tenant mix as part of our continuous efforts to optimise resources. Alongside this, we continued to broaden our presence in Taiwan. The refurbishment of our new boutique in Kaohsiung’s E Sky Land Mall is expected to conclude by mid-FY2022. Situated at the heart of an affluent community, this new outlet will feature an extensive selection of exquisite timepieces and allow us to expand our retail footprint in this market.
ENHANCING OUR DIGITAL REACH
As part of our continuing efforts to bolster our competitiveness, we enhanced our digital footprint during the year. Aimed at gaining greater insights into our customers’ behaviour, the move enables us to curate our timepieces to suit their preferences. Beyond enhancing sales efficiency, these efforts have proven to be effective in driving our consumer activations over the year. Moving forward, we will continue to bolster our digital infrastructure to heighten customer experience while strengthening our brand.
PROMOTING SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY
During the financial year, we continued to uphold our commitment to being a socially responsible company and to uplifting the lives of others. Reflecting our dedication to social sustainability, we contributed to arts and charitable organisations across Singapore. These included donations to Life Community Services Society and the Breast Cancer Foundation as well as support for the local arts scene with a contribution to the Wild Rice Virtual Ball. More details on our sustainability efforts in FY2021 can be found in our Sustainability Report, which outlines the Group’s commitment to accountability and embracing sustainable practices across our operations.
Looking ahead, the macro-economic outlook for 2021 is expected to be a more promising one vis-à-vis the previous year. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) anticipates robust economic expansion on the back of fiscal stimulus in the US and COVID-19 vaccine rollouts across the world. However, uncertainty from new virus mutations, further waves of COVID-19 infections and a divergent rebound across advanced and lesser-developed economies could affect the pace of recovery.
In light of this, prudent capital management remains a key management focus for the Group. We will continue to maintain a robust balance sheet while shoring up a strong cash position to safeguard against external events. Being well-positioned to weather the challenges ahead will provide us with the financial flexibility to seize market opportunities. Notably, the global pandemic has tested the resilience of global supply chains. Recognising this, we will continue to strengthen our partner relationships with suppliers to ensure smooth product flow to our retail outlets. This, combined with our strong balance sheet and deep industry knowledge, stands us in good stead to augment our position in the luxury watch retail landscape.
My sincere appreciation goes to the Board of Directors for their invaluable guidance in driving the Group forward amidst a challenging year. I am also grateful to our partners, shareholders and customers for their unwavering support, as well as our management and staff for their invaluable dedication and commitment.
I am pleased to inform that the Board of Directors has proposed a final dividend of 2.0 cents and a special dividend of 4.5 cents, both being tax-exempt and in cash, per ordinary share for the financial year 2021, subject to the approval of the shareholders at the next annual general meeting to be held on 26 August 2021.
As we forge ahead in the coming year, we remain resolute in our focus on enhancing shareholder value and delivering sustainable returns.
LIM KEEN BAN, ANTHONY