Half-year results from Findel (FDL) told a tale of two parts. The Kleeneze marketing business lost nearly a quarter of sales as it struggled to win back customers following a period of poor service levels.
Luckily, a flexible cost base stemmed the bottom-line damage: divisional operating profit fell by just £1m, giving a £0.4m loss. Still, the dire result forced management to take a £19m impairment charge on the business, which explains the dramatic fall in reported earnings.
Excluding this charge, the group made a pre-tax profit of £1.5m, compared with losses the year before. Much of that was thanks to Express Gifts. This personalised shopping service enjoyed a 6 per cent increase in sales, boosting profits by almost a half to £4.8m, as efforts to improve the pricing and product range and trim costs paid off. Bad debt levels from credit customers also improved dramatically.
Elsewhere, tighter school budgets trimmed profits in the educational supplies division, but sports-merchandise retailer Kitbag enjoyed decent top-line growth and almost halved its losses to £1.5m. Importantly, Findel is exploring a sale, and several parties have expressed interest. Any proceeds would be used to cut debt, which fell by £15.8m to £116m, net of cash.
Oriel Securities expects adjusted pre-tax profit of £28.5m for the full year, giving EPS of 26p, up from £22m and 21p.
Originally reported by: Investors Chronicle