Wilmington reports 'progress' after strategic review

B2B information group Wilmington has said its decision to sell a sizeable part of its publishing business and focus on three key areas has strengthened the business.

In a trading update this morning, the company said its performance in the first three months of 2008 was “in line with the board’s expectations”.

Following a strategic review last year, Wilmington put up for a sale all of its titles in design, construction, power, catering and automative. The “non-core” titles – including Blueprint, FX and What Van? – were sold to Progressive Media for £12m.

The move left Wilmington – which has owned Press Gazette since December 2006 – to focus on three core areas: legal/regulatory; healthcare, and media/entertainment.

But the company said today that it had not ruled out making further “selective bolt-on acquisitions” to grow the business.

“The business continues to benefit from the actions we have taken to focus our activities on professional business markets,” Wilmington said today.

“We expect the strategies we have adopted to enable us to continue to make progress.”

The company paid £5.8m earlier this year on the acquisition of AP Information Services, a provider of business directories and mailing lists. As a result of the acquisition, Wilmington’s level of debt has increased by 28 per cent since the beginning of 2008, and now stands at £19m.

Shares in Wilmington were unchanged at 188.75p this morning – down 28.5 per cent on this time last year. Today’s price gives the company a market capitalisation of around £155m.

In its half-year results in February, the newly restructured group posted a 13.5 per cent annual rise in like-for-like pre-tax profits to £5.7m.

The group is due to publish its full-year results in September.

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