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Business Post Group (UKM)

  Print      Mail a friend       Annual reports

Tuesday 09 November, 1999

Business Post Group

Interim Results

Business Post Group PLC
9 November 1999


                            BUSINESS POST GROUP PLC
                                       
          Interim results for the six months ended 30 September 1999

-   Turnover up 8% to £56.6m (£52.5m) in challenging market conditions

-   Operating profit of £8.8m (£8.5m*)

-   Profit before tax of £8.9m (£8.8m*)

-   Earnings per share up 2% to 11.8p (11.6p)

-   Interim dividend maintained at 5.0p

-   Balance sheet remains strong with net cash of £5m

-   Continued expansion of the network

*After management reorganisation costs of £0.5m.


Commenting  on  the  results and future, Neil Benson, Business  Post  Chairman
said:

'Solid  revenue growth has been achieved in a challenging market.  Your  Board
believes  that this is the result of a further gain in our market  share.   As
expected, the investment in franchisees announced in May and the continuing IT
investment programme have affected profit margins.  Despite this, an operating
profit margin of 15.5% has been achieved.

Trading in the second half continues to be challenging and it is difficult  to
predict likely demand over the Millennium.  However, the major IT changes have
now  been introduced and, with further enhancements scheduled for the rest  of
the  year,  we  have  some exciting developments in the  pipeline  which  will
deliver improved customer service and cost savings in the next financial  year
and position us to take full advantage of the expansion of e-commerce.'


Enquiries :
Peter Kane, Chief Executive             Tel : 020 7831 3113  (on 9.11.99)
Peter Fitzwilliam, Finance Director     Tel : 01753 819 918  (thereafter)
Business Post Group plc


Tim Spratt/Nicola Marsden               Tel : 020 7831 3113
Financial Dynamics

An analyst presentation will take place at 9.00am today at Financial Dynamics,
Holborn Gate, 26 Southampton Buildings, London  WC2A  1PB.

                            BUSINESS POST GROUP PLC
                                       
                             Chairman's Statement
                  for the six months ended 30 September 1999

Results and operational review

Turnover for the first half of the year rose to £56.6 million, an increase  of
8%,  which  is an improvement over the growth achieved in the second  half  of
last  year.  Your Board believes that this is the result of a further gain  in
our  market share despite the impact of the implementation and roll out of our
new  IT  systems.  Profit before tax for the first six months was £8.9 million
against £8.8 million last year (after exceptional charges of £0.5 million).

As  expected, profit margins have been affected by the significant  investment
in  the  development  of  our franchisees, which we announced  in  May.   This
investment  is  expected to amount to around £1 million in the  current  year.
Whilst  gross margins have reduced from 27.7% in the second half of last  year
to  27.1%,  an operating profit margin of 15.5% (15.4% in the second  half  of
last  year after exceptional charges) was achieved even after higher IT costs.
Our  continuing  investment  in  systems infrastructure  and  development  has
increased  IT-related costs, which rose from £1.0m in the first half  of  last
year to £1.4m.

Cashflow and dividends

Net  cash  inflow  from  operating activities was £5.1m  (£9.1m)  and  capital
expenditure amounted to £1.7m (£3.8m).  Of this expenditure, £0.6m related  to
IT.

Your  Board has declared a net dividend of 5.0p per share, unchanged from  the
prior  year.   This  will be paid on 20 December 1999 to shareholders  on  the
register on 26 November 1999.

Developments

Information Technology
There  have  been  major  advances in our information  technology  during  the
period.  Since the end of last year we have completed the overhaul of  our  IT
infrastructure,  which is now more robust and flexible, and introduced  a  new
operating  system  which will enable us to make further developments  both  to
improve customer service and also improve efficiencies.

In  May  we  introduced a facility for customers to obtain  images  of  signed
delivery documents from our web site.  We have also developed a product called
'Web-despatch'  which  enables  customers  to  place  their  orders  over  the
internet,  and  this  product will become available shortly.   This  month  we
commence the roll-out of scanning technology for our drivers which will enable
details  of  deliveries to be provided to customers more quickly than  before,
and  without  the need for these details to be manually input.   Most  of  our
drivers will be using this new technology by the end of the financial year.

Network
There  have been a number of developments in the network infrastructure  since
the  end of last year, reflecting a further expansion and strengthening of the
business.   To  accommodate  increased  volumes,  our  Swansea  regional   hub
relocated  to  larger premises and the Ilford hub opened at the  beginning  of
September.   In  addition,  we have obtained planning  permission  for  a  new
purpose  built  hub in Leicester which will open in the next  financial  year.
Franchised  depots in Cambridge and Edinburgh have been converted to  regional
hubs,  and we have established new franchises in Derby and Stockport,  further
targeting specific post codes.

Products
Last month we launched a new product called Home Choice, which is specifically
targeted  at the home delivery market, offering customers a range of  evening,
weekend  and  specified time slots in which to request home deliveries.   This
enables  us  to  actively target this key area of the market, most  likely  to
benefit from the rise in e-commerce.

Year 2000

With  the introduction of our new operating systems, key operational processes
have  been  switched successfully to a new compliant Tracking  System.   While
there  can  be  no  complete assurance because of the complexities  of  modern
computer  systems,  your  Board believes that there  will  be  no  significant
disruption to the business resulting from the Millennium date change.

Current trading and prospects

Trading in the second half continues to be challenging and it is difficult  to
predict  likely  demand  over the Millennium period.  However,  the  major  IT
changes have now been introduced and, with further enhancements scheduled  for
the rest of the year, we have some exciting developments in the pipeline which
will  deliver improved customer service and cost savings in the next financial
year and position us to take full advantage of the expansion of e-commerce.




Neil Benson
Chairman



CONSOLIDATED PROFIT AND LOSS ACCOUNT
for the six months ended 30 September 1999


                            Unaudited    Audited   Audited
                                   30         30        31
                            September  September     March
                                 1999       1998      1999
                                 £000       £000      £000
                                                 
Turnover                       56,627     52,521   107,388
Cost of sales                  41,305     37,508    77,099
                                                          
Gross profit                   15,322     15,013    30,289
Administrative expenses         6,562      6,492    13,299
                                                          
Operating profit (note 4)       8,760      8,521    16,990
Interest receivable               187        280       529
                                                          
Profit on ordinary                                        
activities before               8,947      8,801    17,519
taxation
Taxation                        2,702      2,744     5,444
                                                          
Profit on ordinary                                        
activities after                6,245      6,057    12,075
taxation
Dividends                       2,647      2,713     8,049
                                                          
Retained profit                 3,598      3,344     4,026
                                                          
Earnings per share - basic      11.8p      11.6p     23.0p
                                                          
Earnings per share - diluted    11.7p      11.5p     22.8p
                                                          
Dividends per share              5.0p       5.0p     15.1p
                                                          
The profit for the financial period is derived from
continuing activities and includes all recognised gains
and losses for the period.
                                                          
Movement in shareholders'  funds
                                                          
Retained profit for the         3,598      3,344     4,026
period
New share capital                 124        930     1,162
subscribed
                                                          
Net addition to                 3,722      4,274     5,188
shareholders' funds
Opening shareholders'          36,506     31,318    31,318
funds
                                                          
Closing shareholders'          40,228     35,592    36,506
funds


CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEET
at 30 September 1999

                            Unaudited    Audited   Audited
                                   30         30        31
                            September  September     March
                                 1999       1998      1999
                                 £000       £000      £000
                                                          
Fixed assets                                              
Tangible assets                28,147     27,512    28,011
Investment in own shares          140                
                                           -         -
                               28,287     27,512    28,011
                                                          
Current assets                                            
Debtors                        26,791     21,464    21,869
Advance corporation tax                    2,083       678
recoverable                     -
Investments - cash              4,000      6,700     6,893
deposits
Cash                            1,242        312       487
                                                          
                               32,033     30,559    29,927
                                                          
Creditors                                                 
Amounts falling due within                                
one year
Trade and other creditors      10,002     11,114    10,029
Corporation tax                 5,105      5,225     4,781
Dividends                       2,645      2,639     5,336
                                                 
                               17,752     18,978    20,146
                                                          
Net current assets             14,281     11,581     9,781
                                                          
Total assets less current      42,568     39,093    37,792
liabilities
                                                          
Creditors                                                 
Amounts falling due after                                 
greater than one year
                                                          
Corporation tax                 1,081      2,785         -
Provisions for liabilities      1,259        716     1,286
and charges
                                                          
                                                          
Net assets                     40,228     35,592    36,506
                                                          
Capital and reserves                             
Called up share capital         5,289      5,278     5,283
Share premium account           9,578      9,233     9,460
Profit and loss account        25,361     21,081    21,763
                                                          
Equity shareholders' funds     40,228     35,592    36,506


CONSOLIDATED CASH FLOW STATEMENT
for the six months ended 30 September 1999

                            Unaudited    Audited   Audited
                                   30         30        31
                            September  September     March
                                 1999       1998      1999
                                 £000       £000      £000
                                                          
Net cash inflow from                                      
operating                       5,128      9,073    19,405
activities
                                                 
Returns on investment                            
Interest received                 240        264       476
                                                          
Tax paid                        (619)      (534)   (5,068)
                                                          
Capital expenditure           (1,673)    (3,782)   (7,017)
                                                          
Equity dividends paid         (5,338)    (5,330)   (7,969)
                                                          
Net cash outflow before                                   
management of liquid                                      
resources and                 (2,262)      (309)     (173)
financing
                                                          
Management of liquid                                      
resources
                                                          
Cash withdrawn                                            
from/(invested on)              2,893      (600)     (793)
deposit
                                                          
                                                          
Financing                                                 
                                                          
Issue of ordinary share           124        930     1,162
capital
                                                          
Increase in cash                  755         21       196


NOTES

1)   The  financial information for the six months ended 30 September 1999 has
     been  prepared using the same accounting policies as in the 31 March 1999
     statutory  accounts.   It is unaudited and does not constitute  statutory
     accounts within the meaning of Section 240 of the Companies Act 1985.

2)   The  financial information for the six months ended 30 September 1998 has
     been extracted from specially prepared non statutory accounts which carry
     an unqualified audit report.
     
3)   The  financial  information for the year ended 31  March  1999  does  not
     constitute  statutory accounts within the meaning of Section 240  of  the
     Companies Act 1985.  The financial information has been extracted from   
     the statutory accounts for that year, a copy of which has been delivered 
     to the Registrar of Companies and carries an unqualified audit report.

4)   Operating profit is stating after charging exceptional items of £0.5m  in
     the six months ended 30 September 1998 and £0.8m in the year ended 31
     March 1999  relating  to  management reorganisation costs and property 
     related provisions under FRS 12.

5)   Earnings  per ordinary share have been calculated by dividing the  profit
     for  the period after taxation by 52,815,387 for the six months ended  30
     September 1999, by 52,403,738 for the six months ended 30 September 1998 
     and by 52,597,219 for the year ended 31 March 1999, representing the
     weighted average number of shares in issue for each period.  Diluted
     earnings per share have been calculated by adjusting the weighted average
     number of shares for the effect of the exercise of share options.
     Adjustments of 235,274 for the six  months ended 30 September 1999,
     467,863 for the six months ended  30 September 1998 and 251,036 for the
     year ended 31 March 1999 have been made, thereby  increasing  the number
     of shares to 53,050,661,  52,871,601  and 52,848,255 respectively.

6)   The  interim statement is being sent to shareholders.  In addition copies
     are  available from the Company's registered office, Express  House,  464
     Berkshire  Avenue, Slough, SL1 4PL or the Business Post  interactive  web
     site  at  http://www.business-post.com. Click on Company Performance  for
     figures and share price information.

7)   Information  on the share price of Business Post Group plc  can  also  be
     found in most daily newspapers under the Support Services classification,
     on BBC1 Ceefax page 222, and on a number of internet sites.