Profits plunge at Centaur

Business publishing group Centaur reported profit before tax down 88 per cent year on year to £1.7m on revenue down 27 per cent to £66.3m.

Adjusted pre-tax profit at the publisher of brands which include The Lawyer, Marketing Week and Money Marketing (excluding the impact of exceptional items and the reduced value of some assets) was down 77 per cent year on year to £4.4m

In the results announcement chairman Graham Sherren wrote: “Whilst this has been a difficult year for Centaur, I write this statement with confidence that our competitive position as a business has improved during the last year and as we go forward we will prosper as the economy recovers.

“The forward visibility of group revenues remains generally low, although we have seen a reduction in the rate of decline in the first two months of the new financial year and there is evidence of some stabilisation. Whilst progress may initially be slow I expect revenues to return to their previous levels as we begin to take full advantage of this recovery.”

In its results statement, Centaur revealed that it started the year with £7.7m in cash and that it remained free of debt as of 30 June when it had net cash of £600,000.

Sherren said he was “very pleased that this strong cash position allowed a raised level of capital investment in the business over the course of the year with a strong focus on developing our online businesses”.

Centaur says it has increased the market share of its major brands, reduced annual spending by £12m and continues to have a “strong pipeline” of new product initiatives.

Recruitment advertising overall was down from £15.6m in 2008 to £8.1m in 2009, circulation revenue was down from £6.1m to £5.2m, online subscriptions were only fractionally down from £7m to £6.9m and income from events dropped from £25.8m to £20.1m.

Centaur revealed it has cut the number of employees from 773 in the 2008 financial year to 634 in 2009 with a reduction in revenue per employee of 17 per cent to £95,000 (this compares with an overall drop in revenue of 27 per cent).

It has agreed a new credit facility for £5m with Royal Bank of Scotland, until May 2012, which it says will provide “adequate headroom” for the group’s working capital needs.

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